One of the more challenging concepts students face in A Course in Miracles is the nature of physical healing. Given course assertions that the body isn’t real (e.g., T-2.V.1:9), and that all forms of healing its apparent ills are magic (e.g., T-2.IV.2:7, T-7.V.4:2), what is the status of physical healing in A Course in Miracles?
A Course in Miracles has clear roots in Christian Science, a nineteenth century religion that suggests sickness is an illusion that only prayer can heal. Both Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford had a relationship with that tradition in their childhoods. Thematic strains of Christian Science are evident throughout the text and workbook, particularly with respect to healing and atonement.
For example, in “Atonement and Eucharist” from Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy sees atonement as an end to our separation from God.
Atonement is the exemplification of man’s unity with God, whereby man reflects divine Truth, Life, and Love. Jesus of Nazareth taught and demonstrated man’s oneness with the Father, and for this we owe him endless homage.
And later yet she discussed the relationship between truth and error, in terms that – with fairly minor semantic adjustments – should be familiar to students of A Course in Miracles.
Love and Truth are not at war with God’s image and likeness. Man cannot exceed divine Love, and so atone for himself. Even Christ cannot reconcile Truth to error, for Truth and error are irreconcilable. Jesus aided in reconciling man to God by giving man a truer sense of Love, the divine Principle of Jesus’ teachings, and this truer sense of Love redeems man from the law of matter, sin, and death by the law of Spirit, — the law of divine Love.
Eddy’s premise was that sickness was illusory and thus could be healed through prayer, through bringing one’s spirit into alignment with truth as God created it. Eddy contemplated specifically physical healing. Her own profound experience included healing from a fall.
Does A Course in Miracles make a similar case for that kind of healing?
It is true that some students of the course experience healing of this sort. I have heard and read testimony about skin cancer being healed, migraine headaches disappearing, addictions disappearing and more.
I have no reason to doubt testimony like this. It is entirely consistent with the release of guilt fostered by the course. Miracles heal the body because we are learning – through the undoing of guilt – that the mind, not the body, makes illness. What happens in the body merely reflects what is happening in the mind (T-28.II.11:4). This is as true of our sexual relationships as our relationships with food and eating.
The miracle is always about the shift in our thinking from ego to Christ, from little self to God. It has no other goal; and really, healing needs no other.
But – and this is critical – physical healing is not the ultimate goal of A Course in Miracles.
Yet half the lesson will not teach the whole. The miracle is useless if you learn but that the body can be healed, for this is not the lesson it was sent to teach. The lesson is the mind was sick that thought the body could be sick; projecting out its guilt caused nothing, and had no effects (T.28.II.11:5-7).
The real goal of A Course in Miracles is to restore cause and effect to its rightful place. Cause lies in the mind and the physical world – from our bodies to other bodies to the weather to the sea to the distant stars – are merely effects that witness to what is happening in the mind.
As our mind heals – which is to say as it accepts its responsibility as a decision-maker that is choosing to think either with or against God, or Love – the real fruit is inner peace. That might show up as a miraculous deliverance from a fatal cancer diagnosis. But it might also show up as the grace to simply accept the cancer because the cancer is not real. So there is nothing to get worked up about. There is never anything to get worked up about.
We can’t fake this insight. Most of us think of miracles in terms of what we can get materially. That’s what we do! But A Course in Miracles slowly and surely redirects our thinking, aligning it with something closer to Truth, or reality. At that level, sickness is impossible regardless of what appears to be happening in the world. We heal by realizing this. We heal by realizing that at that level, there is no sickness or harm.
In other words, we lose our attachment to the symbols of hate and guilt that show up in the world. Whatever shows up is okay. It can’t shake our inner peace because our inner peace is not caused by what is external. It is reflected there for learning purposes, but reflections are not causative.
In this sense, the course differentiates – subtly perhaps – from Christian Science. This is not to say that one path is “better” or more “right” than the other. Either can be a useful path to salvation, to the realization of our fundamental unity. It is a question of what is most helpful to us at a given time.
But in terms of miracles, the miracle is always about the shift in our thinking from ego to Christ, from little self to God. It has no other goal; and really, physical healing needs no other.