We have now completed the first 200 lessons of A Course in Miracles. Their cumulative lesson – which they have emphasized in various forms, over and over – is simply that we are not bodies, and there is no world, and that together, these statements form a single truth, the recognition of which is our liberation.
The suffering that we have long endured, whatever form it takes, has always been driven by our identification with the body, and its vulnerabilities and weaknesses. It has always take the world seriously as the body’s home, and both the threat against – and the source of any meaningful defense against – its survival. But the body is not the problem! The identification with it is.
Fix that and the world will cease to matter at all.
Therefore, it is this identification – or misidentification, really – that the Course is given to correct.
I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me (W-pI.Rvi.in.3:3-5).
It is these three thoughts to which we return now, as often as possible, as deeply as possible, and as willingly as possible because “each contains the whole curriculum if understood, practicted, accepted, and applied to all seeming happenings throughout the day” (W-pI.Rvi.in.2:2).
The critical aspect here – because it is the critical aspect of all our ACIM practice all the time – is to make no exceptions. There can be no “seeming happening” which we exclude from these ideas. Nor can we prefer one of the three over the others. Love is inclusive; anything held apart from healing makes healing impossible. This is a law.
A Course in Miracles is a beautiful spiritual path because it reminds us that we “have a function that transcends the world we see” (W-pI.Rvi.in.3:7). Our work is simply to relinquish “everything that clutters up the mind, and makes it deaf to reason, sanity and simple truth” (W-pI.Rvi.in.3:8). This is enough because it is the literal practice of remembering – and practicing – wholeness.
Critically, we are beginning a phase of our learning that moves us beyond language and all other “special forms of practice” (W-pI.Rvi.in.4:1). This is the letting go of prior learning and personal prerogative. When we release our personal, ego-driven program we naturally become open to the Holy Spirit’s, Whose program moves from fear to Love, which is the remembrance of what we are in truth.
This “formless” practice obligates us to be aware of when “idle thoughts” appear that would distract us from the Holy Spirit’s teaching. These thoughts are always fear-based, and they always involve the personal sense of entitlement, protectiveness and hunger that accompany the body. Bodies do body things – that’s not a problem. The problem is when we think we have to do body things. We don’t.
These idle thoughts can take the form of impatience with a co-worker, a desire to eat the last cookie rather than save it for a friend, a memory of injustice from childhood that we savor. Whatever. When these occur, we recognize them as distractions from healing and choose love instead.
Choosing love in this context means declaring to ourselves that we choose “patience” or “generosity” or “understanding” in lieu of obsessing over harm and other illusions.
Beyond such special applications of each day’s idea, we will add but a few formal expressions or specific thoughts to aid in practicing. Instead, we give these times of quiet to the Teacher Who instructs in quiet, speaks of peace, and gives our thoughts whatever meaning they may have (W-pI.Rvi.in.6:5-6).
Jesus speaks increasingly rarely in the first-person as the Workbook progresses. I find it comforting and significant when he does. Here, Jesus makes clear that it is the Holy Spirit, not him, in whose care and guidance we rest. The Holy Spirit makes our practice – here and always – a gift to God which we both give and receive.
The declaration Jesus not so subtly makes here is that the point is not to follow him but rather to accept the Holy Spirit as our Teacher, and consent to the transformation He brings about on behalf of God. That transformation always undoes the personal, leaving only Christ. In A Course in Miracles, Jesus invites us to do what he did, so that we might remember – as he did – the truth about our identity and function.
Christ is our function, because Christ is what we are in truth. That is what we know now; that is what will guide through the next phase of our learning.