A Course in Miracles Lesson 163

There is no death. The Son of God is free.

Bodies die. This is true for bees, elephants and human beings. It’s true for clouds and planets. It is even true of the universe. The one thing upon which the living can depend is the arrival of death. It is, as Emily Dickinson called it, “the postponeless Creature.”

Oddly, this lesson makes only one reference to bodies and that one is to the metaphorical body of the examplar Son of God (W-pI.163.4:4). Indeed, A Course in Miracles here is far more concerned about our response to physical death than to actually disproving it.

What can we infer from this?

For one thing, if you say “there is no death” to most people they are going to mount a nontrivial argument, pointing out all kinds of medical, biological, chemical data that “proves” death is real. Conclusion? Of course death is real. Only fools argue otherwise.

The course appears uninterested in that argument. It just doesn’t take it up. Why? Because to the body, death is always going to appear real. Bodies die – that is why ego wants us to associate with them, to become identified as a specific body. So long as you believe the body is your home, then death is going to be be a viable threat. There is no logic that undoes this.

So the lesson is less interested in a full-frontal assault on death, and more interested in getting us to notice the many forms death takes: anger, anxiety, sadness and doubt, among others (W-pI.163.1:2). And it emphasizes that all of these reflect our confused worships of death as “savior and as giver of release” (W-pI.163.1:3).

In other words, being in a body is stress-inducing, and we perceive death as our salvation from all that because it ends all that. And yet, suggests the course, all “that” is just death with a different name, and it has a singular goal that remains hidden from us: by recasting death as savior, it testifies that God is dead.

Here is the opposite of God proclaimed as lord of all creation, stronger than God’s Will for life, the endlessness of love, and Heaven’s perfect, changeless constancy. Here is the Will of the Father and of Son defeated finally, and laid to rest beneath the headstone death has placed upon the body of the holy Son of God (W-pI.163.4:3-4).

Essentially, the lesson is suggesting that we are wilful co-conspirators with ego in replacing God with death (W-pI.163.5:4). Suffering in myriad forms must follow.

Go along with the lesson for a minute. Okay – I’m not going to get into the finality of death, the obviousness of it, et cetera. I’m going to ask a different question: is God dead? Could God be dead?

I encourage you to ask that question and to give yourself space in which to hear the answer. Is God, in fact, dead?

I suggest that the answer is no. God is not dead. We may not yet have lost our fear of death, we may not yet understand how there can be no death, and we may not even know with perfect certainty God’s reality but of this we can be sure: God is not dead.

Look around you. Life is everywhere. It is in the trees and the birds who are in the trees. It is in the sunlight streaming onto each blade of grass, it is in every neighbor whose face you see and whose voice you hear, and it is in you, too, for you are here, now, indisputably.

If we give attention in a non-dramatic, sustainable way to life we will begin to see a process – a vast process – that transcends its various parts. It’s not about the blades of grass or the neighbors. A chickadee is life, yes, but life is so much vaster than the chickadee because it includes galaxies and nutrinos and oceans.

This vastness transcends us, as well. There are limits to our senses and our cognitive abilities. Life transcends our capacity for expression and comprehension. In this, it resembles – indeed, becomes coherent with – God, as the beautiful prayer at the end of this lesson makes clear.

We are Your messengers, and we would look upon the glorious reflection of Your Love which shines in everything. We live and move in You alone. We are not separate from Your eternal life (W-pI.163.9:2-4).

This lesson does not want to persuade us by logic. It wants to show us the futility of believing God can be dead, and it wants to show us that we have become unwilling agents of that particular lie. It takes very little effort to see that God is not dead, and that we are ourselves gently set in the life we share with our living God and with all living things that collectively are Creation (W-pI.163.9:6).

Don’t worry about death today. It’s not our concern. Rather, look to the life that you are given – right here, right now – and to each shining example of this life, each one of which has no function but to remind you that you live as your Creator lives. We celebrate life and not death today, and give thanks that it is so.

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