Right now you are not with me. The hayloft is empty, save for my trestle table and chair, shelf upon shelf spilling with books. It’s quiet here but for chickens clucking below the window. I am alone, writing this. And what I write you will read later, in the privacy of your own space, which I can imagine but never know.
It seems that we are separated, yes?
This can feel a little redundant or overly-simplistic but A Course in Miracles asks us not to overlook it: we believe that we are separate from our brothers and sisters, which is not great, so we should ask: what is the cause of this gap?
The answer, says the course, is the body. The body is the cause of the perceived gap between us.
Look closely: does the body not form an impenetrable wall around you? You can never live in “my” interior, as I can never live in “yours.” I mean, yes, we pretend to be “soul-mates” and “true loves” and whatnot but . . . when was the last time somebody else drinking a glass of water quenched your thirst?
The course suggests that if it weren’t for the body – this one right here, writing in the hay loft – then our union would be total and we would know the joy and peace of selfless Love. Without separate interests arising in separate bodies we would be one, and nothing could part us.
And yet . . . We go on with these bodies and this separation. Why?
The body saves you, for it gets away from total sacrifice and gives to you the time in which to build again your separate self, which you truly believe diminishes as you and your brother meet (T-29.I.4:7).
The course suggests here that bodies are our chosen means for making and emphasizing – and thus experiencing as real – separation.
But critically, the body only serves this function with our consent (e.g., T-29.I.5:1). The only reason you and I are not aware of our fundamental unity right now is because we refuse to challenge the erroneous conviction that what we are is in fact contained and constrained by a body.
So the suggestion then is that we look at this fact and see it clearly as possible. We don’t want to deny the body, and we don’t want to change it. We don’t want to integrate it with spirit. Healing isn’t our job but God’s. Our job is to notice our need for healing, our yearning for it, and then allow help to be given. Can you notice how your body is a barrier to Love?
If there is one cookie, we can’t both eat all of it. If I am walking on the beaches of Cape Cod then I can’t also be walking on the shores of Lake Champlain. If I have cancer I am not simultaneously cancer-free. In these ways, the body is a limit which makes the idea of sacrifice meaningful. I can’t take every human being in my arms – I can only take a few, mostly one at a time. Always we are giving up, letting go, until even love is frittered away and forgotten.
Sometimes I think I’m past all that. I wave my hand and say “I am not a body, I’m free” and then . . . forget all about the hard work of looking within with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Of course, repeating words and ideas is a thing bodies do. There’s no such thing as an original thought. And bodies do this because it reinforces separation. Can we see it happening? Can we accept it is happening?
To see and accept this is not a judgment against the body. The body itself is neutral, neither good nor bad, weak nor strong (e.g., T-29.I.5:1). It’s not even a judgment against the belief system underlying the body’s privilege.
Instead, it’s the recognition of confusion in the mind which is healed by being recognized. You don’t have to solve a mystery, or learn a secret, or say the right prayer, or give up sex and chocolate or anything.
You just have to notice how your body works to minimize – really, to deny the very existence of – infinite and eternal and free-flowing Love.
Would you know that nothing stands between you and your brother and sister? Would you know there is no gap behind which you can hide? There is a shock that comes to those who learn their savior is their enemy no more (T-29.I.8:4-6).
We are scared of that shock because we associate it with a thing that happens in and to a body. Zap! But there’s something after the shock, and it’s softer and gentler. It quiets the storm and calms the waves.
The “happy message” of A Course in Miracles is simply that “God is Love” (T-29.I.8:7). But the Love in question is neither contained in nor constrained by the body. Instead, it is the Love we discover by letting go of the egoic shadow in order to embrace the “promise of the living God” (T-29.II.6:1).
God gave you all there is. And to be sure you could not lose it, did He give the same to every living thing as well. And thus is every living thing a part of you, as of Himself (T-29.VIII.9:7-9).
Those are radical sentences, and deeply comforting.
When we give attention to how our bodies function in the world, it is given to us to see beyond those bodies to Love, and so to be regulated by the body no more. This is not a problem of science or philosophy; it is not a question of religion. It is a simple gift which we give away in order to learn that all is in us, who are home in God, eternally.