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 Are Healing and Atonement Related? (M-22)
The section we will look at now speaks a great deal about the teacher of God in terms of sickness and healing. We will begin near the end of the first paragraph:
(1:9-12) To forgive is to heal. The teacher of God has taken accepting the Atonement for himself as his only function. What is there, then, he cannot heal? What miracle can be withheld from him?
As an advanced teacher of God, I realize I have no function other than to have my mind be healed. My function is not to heal others, or to bring peace and love into the world, or to save people or things in the world. My function is simply to accept the Atonement for myself. Once that healing has been accepted in my mind, there is nothing I cannot heal, because my mind is joined with everything. This does not mean that the physical world will necessarily change, that people around me will throw down their crutches and start walking, etc. It simply means that the healing thought within my mind is joined with the need for healing in everyone else's mind.
(2:1) The progress of the teacher of God may be slow or rapid, depending on whether he recognizes the Atonement's inclusiveness, or for a time excludes some problem areas from it.
We already discussed this idea when we looked at "faithfulness" under the characteristics of a teacher of God. The advanced teacher of God has faith that this principle includes all situations without exception—which it must! To exclude certain areas and say I can forgive everything except abortion, or except genocide, or except prejudice, or except this or except that, is to make the error real, and to say there is a hierarchy of illusions—the first law of chaos.
My progress as a teacher of God and as a student of the Course is marked by my ability to generalize this lesson in forgiveness to everything and to all people, and not to give anything or anyone in this world power over the Atonement principle. If the separation from God never occurred—which is what the principle states—then nothing in this world can be real because everything in this world speaks of separation.
So as we go through our day we want to be increasingly sensitive to those things that push our buttons, that annoy us, that make us fearful, guilty, or sick. And we want to be aware that when these things happen, it is because we have forgotten that God's Love is all there is. Anything else that appears different in this world—suffering, pain, evil, sin—must be outside His Love. Therefore it does not exist; it has no power over our minds, and no power to take away the Love and the peace of God that we truly are.
The challenge, again, is to make no exceptions and, when we do make exceptions, to be aware of them without feeling guilty. I need simply say, "I've made an exception because there is a part of my mind that is still afraid of God's Love. And so I'm using this as a way of rationalizing the decision I made to keep God's Love separate from me."
(2:2) In some cases, there is a sudden and complete awareness of the perfect applicability of the lesson of the Atonement to all situations, but this is comparatively rare.
Jesus is saying that it is possible that someone could just suddenly shift and understand that everything is illusory, but that does not usually happen. More often than not it is a process.
(2:3) The teacher of God may have accepted the function God has given him long before he has learned all that his acceptance holds out to him.
I may have accepted that my function is to learn forgiveness, to heal my mind, and to accept the Atonement, but I am not really aware of what that truly entails—which is usually a blessing! The section we skipped, called the "Development of Trust" (M-4.I-A), talks about this as a process involving six stages. A part of our minds may have accepted our function, but we are not really aware of what this involves. And so the six stages describe the process of becoming increasingly aware of what it truly means to let go of what has never existed.
(2:4-6) It is only the end that is certain. Anywhere along the way, the necessary realization of inclusiveness may reach him. If the way seems long, let him be content.
In other words, Jesus is telling us not to be impatient and not to judge ourselves harshly or feel guilty because we are not yet perfect.
(2:7-8) He has decided on the direction he wants to take. What more was asked of him?
The workbook basically helps us to decide on the direction we want to take by helping us see that we will be better off taking the Holy Spirit's path rather than the ego's. That does not mean that when we complete the workbook we are one step away from Heaven, as we have seen. That is why the Course says of itself, "This course is a beginning, not an end" (W-pII.ep.1:1).
(2:9) And having done what was required [the little willingness], would God withhold the rest?
And that really is trust, which comes back to what we said at the beginning. We develop trust and patience that, once we have begun on this path, we will complete it because the Love of God is walking along the way with us, step by step. It is only necessary that we be aware that we are involved in a process, a journey, with the Love of the Holy Spirit, Who will teach us day by day what we have to learn. And there is no penalty because we become afraid or guilty, or one day say "I am not going to learn this; I am going to do it the ego's way: I want to be angry, depressed, vicious, and guilty." We can do all that without guilt or fear. The only penalty or punishment that day is that we will feel miserable—that is all. We are choosing to be miserable because we are too afraid of God's peace. And that's okay—it is not a sin.
(3:1) That forgiveness is healing needs to be understood, if the teacher of God is to make progress.
In other words, there is no difference. Forgiveness and healing are just different forms. Getting angry and attacking you out there is an error, and forgiveness undoes it. Basically I have taken the guilt in my mind and projected it onto your body to justify my attacking you. Forgiveness is the name the Course gives to undoing that.
The process is exactly the same when I project my guilt onto my body and get sick, except we call it sickness instead of anger. And so the solution in this case is called healing, but the dynamic and the process are essentially the same.
(3:2) The idea that a body can be sick is a central concept in the ego's thought system.
That makes the body real, makes God's punishment real, and keeps the mind protected.
(3:3-4) This thought gives the body autonomy, separates it from the mind, and keeps the idea of attack inviolate. If the body could be sick Atonement would be impossible.
The idea that the body is sick makes it appear as if the body is autonomous from the mind. So I believe, not that my mind has made my body sick, but that it was a germ, a virus, or something else in the world. And therefore the body is separate from the mind, and attack is kept inviolate or sacrosanct. In other words, attack has been made real and can never be reversed.
If the body can be sick, then separation and attack are real, and Atonement is a lie. This is not how the world looks at atonement, obviously. Atonement in Judaism and Christianity connotes suffering and sacrifice as redemptive, and as what God wants. But that is atonement of the ego. That is not the Atonement of the Holy Spirit, which corrects error by showing that it never existed. The world's atonement "corrects" the error by establishing sin as real, and then saying we have to suffer and sacrifice to atone for it, which of course keeps sin real. It does not let sin go or undo it.
(3:5) A body that can order a mind to do as it sees fit could merely take the place of God and prove salvation is impossible.
The ego has reversed cause and effect. In fact, the mind is the cause and the body is the effect. My mind causes me to be sick. But the ego does not want me to remember that, so it turns the causal relationship upside down. Now my body is the source of sickness, which has an effect on me and so I experience pain. If that were true, then my body would have all the power. It would have usurped God's role, and salvation would be impossible. If salvation can only be from God, and God has been replaced by the ego, then only the ego's salvation is now possible. And, of course, that does not save at all—it merely condemns.
(3:6-9) What, then, is left to heal? The body has become lord of the mind. How could the mind be returned to the Holy Spirit unless the body is killed? And who would want salvation at such a price?
And yet, of course, that is exactly what the world has always chosen. The body is seen as the cause and the mind as the effect. The body is the prison in which the mind is trapped. And the mind can be free only if the body is killed. So, for example, many Christians have looked forward to their dying and the Lord Jesus coming to take them back—some even pray for death, as if the body were the problem.
(4:1-3) Certainly sickness does not appear to be a decision. Nor would anyone actually believe he wants to be sick. Perhaps he can accept the idea in theory, but it is rarely if ever consistently applied to all specific forms of sickness, both in the individual's perception of himself and of all others as well.
I think this is extremely important because it is obvious that this is the case. Even if we can accept in principle that the mind makes the body sick, it is very difficult to apply that principle to all situations, without exception, involving oneself as well as everyone else in the world. And so that is one of the hallmarks of an advanced teacher—the recognition that this principle holds without exception.
(4:4-5) Nor is it at this level [the level of the body] that the teacher of God calls forth the miracle of healing. He overlooks the mind and body, seeing only the face of Christ shining in front of him, correcting all mistakes and healing all perception.
In other words, I overlook the sickness in the body as well as the sickness in the mind—both are equally illusory. The body is not sick and the mind is not sick because there is no separation thought. I look straight to the Atonement principle: the error, the separation from God, never occurred. The guilt in my mind is unreal, and therefore the projection of guilt onto my body must also be unreal. The "face of Christ" is not anything literal or physical—it is simply the face of guiltlessness or innocence.
(4:6) Healing is the result of the recognition, by God's teacher, of who it is that is in need of healing.
It is not you—it is my mind that needs healing.
(4:7-9) This recognition has no special reference. It is true of all things that God created. In it are all illusions healed.
As a teacher of God, I recognize that if I have perceived you as sick or in pain, it is my mind that needs healing.