There is one life, and that I share with God.
Lesson 167 is one of the more challenging daily lessons in the ACIM workbook. Its emphasis on non-duality, its exploration of the unreality of death, and its call that we seek to mirror the Thoughts of God now challenge me on many levels. I want to take the abstractions and make them specific, turn death into a metaphor, and in that way postpone perfection.
In a way, this lesson invites me to confront the source of my resistance to the Course in general, paving the way to the radical healing it can impart when we are ready and willing to learn only from the Holy Spirit.
Although I like talking about non-duality as much as the next student of A Course in Miracles, in truth the concept is overwhelming. Our brains incline toward opposites; the body’s perception is grounded in duality. The body is one thing, the bed is another, and the book yet another, and the window another, and the stars outside and . . .
There are not different kinds of life, for life is like the truth. It does not have degrees. It is the one condition in which all that God created share. Like all His Thoughts, it has no opposite (W-pI.167.1:1-4).
If the Course is right here, then we cannot rely upon the perception inherent in our bodies. Our senses – guided by the brain’s narrow range of interpretation – can only mislead us. We need to make contact with the mind that will project no opposite because it knows that neither God nor truth can be opposed. This is not an intellectual experience, but a spiritual one. We can’t reason our way to it. We can be willing to learn, and so we learn, and at some point in the learning the conditions of knowing ourselves as mind are revealed. That is the path. It is more in the nature of a gift than an accomplishment.
Yet the brain insists it can somehow learn this on its own. It is the same old story ego always tells. We don’t want to give up the body’s centrality, its primary role in the dream. We like the warm bed while the snowy winds blow and we like the stars that flicker in the dark and cavernous sky. We want to bring God down to this level. Abstraction is terrifying to us because all we know is the specificity of separation. But we can’t have both. This lesson reminds us that we are going to have to choose.
At the heart of that non-duality is the teaching that death is not real. God created Life, what God created has no opposite, and so Life cannot end. There is no state in opposition to it.
There is no death because what God created shares His Life. There is no death because an opposite to God does not exist. There is no death because the Father and the Son are one (W-pI.167.1:5-7).
Again, this confounds our physicality – all that we know of life in the world is that it ends. When we are happy, we know that some unhappiness waits down the road. When we are joyful, we know that sadness is still in the wings. We know that our bodies and the bodies of those we love are going to slow down and break and eventually stop altogether. Don’t tell me death isn’t real. Everything I see in the world teaches me otherwise.
And yet A Course in Miracles insists there is no death. And because I am not ready to hear it, I look for compromises. I can accept the idea that death is not real because I can turn it into a metaphor of sorts. I can say, for example, that I will turn to dust but that dust will assume the shape of a willow tree or a rose or a dung beetle. In that way, well sure, life goes on.
But the Course does not teach that. I can compromise all I want but A Course in Miracles does not. Again, Lesson 167 brings me face-to-face with the tension between what I want and what the Course teaches. And then it’s on me: what do I want? How real am I willing to get with the Lord?
Finally, this lesson urges me to give up the specificity of separation and stop clinging to the supposed reality of death and simply accept that what I am in truth is a Thought in the Mind of God – whole, pure, unchanging and eternally joyful. Why wait?
Let us today be children of the truth, and not deny our holy heritage. Our life is not as we imagine it . . . We will not ask for death in any form today. Nor will we let imagined opposites to life abide even an instant where the Thought of life eternal has been set by God Himself (W-pI.167.10:1-2, 4-5).
And I say: yes, that sounds nice. I’ll get to it tomorrow. Tara Singh said that there are two problems: one, we can’t see a truth and two, we think we can put off God until tomorrow. This lesson suggests that we don’t have to do that – that we can slip out of the awful dream of separation and wake up to Oneness now. And in response, we hedge. We like the idea of it, we’re happy to talk about, maybe write about it but . . . we aren’t going to do it. Not yet.
So seeing our resistance that way – having it brought so clearly to our awareness – what can we do? It seems impossible sometimes, the idea that we can just stop being locked in the experience of bodies and brains, stop fighting against love, stop insisting on the fever dreams inherent in the sleep of forgetfulness. It’s too much. It’s too hard.
At the end of the lesson, we are reminded that all we have to do in the world is be willing to learn. If we make our decisions with the Holy Spirit and allow healing to happen on His terms, then this dream of hell will gently and happily shift to a shared dream of Heaven. And then the step from sleeping to waking will be as if it were no step at all.
A sleeping mind must waken, as it sees its own perfection mirroring the Lord of life so perfectly it fades into what is reflected there. And now it is no more a mere reflection. It becomes the thing reflected, and the light which makes reflection possible (W-pI.167.12:3-5).
When we face our resistance, we see what blocks the recognition of God’s Love. We don’t have to do anything about it. When we see it clearly and associate it with our unhappiness, then we are ready to allow Jesus to show us a different way. We are ready to let the Holy Spirit assist us in a new way of seeing. All that is done for us, according to our willingness. The new life is already there and as it is revealed we are reminded that it is our truth, and our source, and our real life.
Lesson 167 is hard, but it is also a sign of fidelity. We are ready to go deeper and see more clearly the nature of the separation, and thus move more surely in the direction of atonement. That movement is itself joyful – reflecting Heaven – and ensures our safe awakening in God.