One of the more challenging concepts offered up in A Course in Miracles is that we are not bodies. It does not mean this is a compromised way – that we are souls temporarily residing in physical bodies. It does not mean it metaphorically. It means literally that whatever we are in truth has nothing to do with the external, the body.
When you equate yourself with a body you will always experience depression. When a child of God thinks of himself in this way he is belittling himself, and seeing his brothers as similarly belittled (T-8.VII.1:6-7).
The Holy Spirit – our healed mind – does not share this egoic and material view of the body. It sees it the same way it sees trees and turtles and coconut cream pies: a means of communication through which a sick and fragmented mind can be healed and made whole. This is the whole value of the world – when shared with the Holy Spirit, it becomes a means of atonement. The separation cannot prevail when we surrender judgment to the one who knows better.
The Holy Spirit does not see the body as you do, because He knows the only reality of anything is the service it renders God on behalf of the function He gives it (T-8.VII.3:6).
If we want to know which teacher we are working with – the ego or the Holy Spirit – all we have to do is check in with our perception of our brothers and sisters. Not the ones that we love readily, but the ones that we hate, secretly or otherwise. Take an inventory. Can you call to mind one person, the mere memory of which brings anger or hate or guilt or depression or fear? Answer yes and you know that no matter how peaceful or happy you appear to be, you are still not committed to Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
It’s important not to berate ourselves for this. So you are filled with anger and hatred for a fellow human being – so what? Very few of us – very very few of us – are entirely free of that. Indeed, holiness resides not in having no anger or hatred but rather in seeing that anger and hatred clearly. Only when we reach this clarity, this willingness to face what is broken and ugly can it begin to be healed.
[a]ll loss comes only from your own misunderstanding . . . [w]hen you look upon a brother as a physical entity, his power and glory are “lost” to you and so are yours. You have attacked him, but you must have attacked yourself first. Do not see him this way for your own salvation, which must bring him his (T-8.VII.5:1, 3-5).
This is why kindness – which is never explicitly taught in A Course in Miracles – is really very important to its useful application. In general, we don’t heal first and then start looking for Christ in one another. We have to seek it out – and even bring it – before we feel its effects. There is a certain “act as if” principle at play. We might not know how to perceive salvation in one another, but we can do a lot of good by approaching each other in that spirit.
At a minimum, when we treat our brothers and sisters as if they are the very key to Heaven, we tend to promote a spirit of peace and fellowship in which even more learning and healing is facilitated.
That is right use of the body. And its fruits are for everyone – including ourselves.
Guided by the Holy Spirit, [the body] becomes a means by which the part of the mind you tried to separate from spirit can reach beyond its distortions and return to spirit. The ego’s temple thus becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit, where devotion to Him replaces devotion to the ego (T-8.VII.9:5-6).
In a way, this is why the metaphysics of the Course can be a bit of a distraction. It’s good to know them and have them on hand, but not if they keep us wrapped up in intellectual navel-gazing. Whether we want to admit it or not, we believe that we’re here in the world, having all these experiences of the body. Why not – with the assistance of the Holy Spirit – devote those experiences to our dim understanding of God? As the Course points out “[H]ealing is the result of using the body solely for communication (T-8.VII.10:1).
Mind cannot be made physical, but it can be made manifest through the physical if it uses the body to go beyond itself. By reaching out, the mind extends itself. It does not stop at the body . . . (T-8.VII.10:4-6).
Thus, the only use to which the Holy Spirit will put the body is to communication. That is the only use to which we should put it as well. This takes time to learn, but our willingness to try – to fumble along – is never without reward. The way to joy and peace is through the illusion we have made – our bodies, other bodies, the world with its trees and turtles and delicious desserts and political strife and so on and so forth.
As we practice heeding the Holy Spirit’s singular purpose, we begin to experience the promise of God’s love. And if we fall short? If we find ourselves hating on the neighbor because her dogs bark so loud? Or on a certain professor because he is so unrelenting about comma splices? Or on this or that politician because they are so heartless and greedy?
Don’t sweat it. You cannot make mistakes the Holy Spirit cannot fix. Your errors are without effect which is why the Course can say they therefore never happened (T-8.VII.16:1).
The power of wholeness is extension. Do not arrest your thought in this world, and you will open your mind to creation in God (T-8.VII.16:7-8).
We don’t need to make special time for the Holy Spirit. We don’t need to be in a church or on a zafu and we don’t need any training or certification. How are we doing with seeing our brothers and sisters not as bodies but as the very light and love of salvation?
And seeing that we are not quite seeing them as purely as the Holy Spirit does, can we not cheerfully ask for assistance? It is always given and we are always blessed in its practice.