I am not a body is not synonymous with bodies aren’t real.
A Course in Miracles is specific about two (among other) points: there is no world (W-pI.132.6:2) and we are not bodies (W-pI.199.8:7).
Often we infer, or project, another point: there are no bodies either.
But that addition is a distraction.
Healing is our shared journey away from fear and towards love. Nothing more, because there is nothing more, and nothing less, because anything less is not worthy of us.
The measuring stick is: fear makes us suffer; love makes us happy. Are we happy or not? Check your internal state and adjust as necessary. Don’t worry about being right; be happy.
Being happy does not require a PhD in philosophy. Knowing the difference between fear and love is natural. The ability is inherent in us. Moving from fear to love is a natural effect of the ability.
In happiness we were created; in happiness we live.
However, we can resist this happiness, and in other ways obstruct the naturally free flow of love, which is our joy. But “natural” does not mean easy. In the context of separation, “natural” is not even guaranteed.
We have to lean into and become the very being we are, not the being we project.
Moving away from fear and towards love, and learning how to remain in love, necessarily involves others. In ACIM, if that is our path, then the other is unconditionally related to our healing.
Oneness must be inclusive of twoness.
The other always appears to us as a body, separate from our own body, with which – with whom – we can interact. Only minds join, sure – but for us, for now, they do so through the medium of bodies.
Healing is the Holy Spirit’s form of communication in this world, and the only He accepts. Hre recognizes no other, because He does not accept the ego’s confusion of the mind and body (T-7.V.3:2-3).
Healing means that our bodies are used only for communication (T-7.V.1:3). Thus, another way to think of the body is as a channel for either fear or love.
True communication promotes love because to communicate is to love; accordingly, a failure to communicate makes us fearful.
That is because the only message we ever truly give or receive is love (see, e.g., the sixteenth miracle principle). When we are giving and receiving this message, we are happy. When we are not aware that we are giving and receiving it – when we allow ego to hide it from us – we suffer.
A Course in Miracles is open-minded about what form communication adopts as it gives and receives love. It can be a smile (M-3.2:5). It can be words (W-pI.rIV.in.7:4). It can be psychic vibing (M-25.2:2). It can be a beautiful walk in nature (T-17.II.6:3).
It can also be sex.
The Course is less open-minded about sex than other forms of communication. In the final draft Helen gave to Ken Wapnick for editing, all the early references to sex – there were plenty – were ommitted, an ommission with which Ken happily collaborated. Many of those early references are not as liberal or progressive as one might think.
What is going on with communication, sex, holiness and A Course in Miracles?
I know folks whose ACIM practice includes a daily yoga regimen. They do not seem anxious that this conflicts with A Course in Miracles.
I know folks whose course practice includes weekly ACIM study groups and semi-annual larger gatherings. Do these students stress about using their bodies that way – gathering to talk and listen, hug and laugh?
They don’t. Because gathering in the interest of deepening our spiritual practice and helping others deepen theirs is spiritual, wholesome, and healthy.
We keep sex private which is a judgment against sex. And the ego trap is to try to figure out why we judge against it. But there’s an easier way: stop judging against sex. What happens?
The sex question is easy once we realize it’s just another thing bodies do, like sneezing or yawning. In and of itself it is perfectly neutral.
Then the question becomes: what is sex for?
The answer is: communication. Sex is a form of communication with one another. It’s not the only form or the best form, but it is a nontrivial form. All of us – in personal, intimate, even mysterious ways – are connected to sex as a form of communication.
Whatever else it does, sexual connection – whatever form it takes – extends something that reaches beyond merely the individual body’s survival.
This suggests that the body’s survival is not the be-all end-all of our existence, as A Course in Miracles insists over and over is the case.
Our longing for safe, joyous, ecstatic and deeply mutual sexual connection – which includes celibacy, masturbation, asexuality, friends with benefits et cetera – indicates that at its best and most merciful sex is not about fear but about love. I am using “love” in the Maturanan sense. Holy sex means recognizing – and experiencing by actually living with – the other as radically equal to us.
The other is equal to you; they do not need to justify their existence to you, nor you yours to them. This shared equality – forever mutually confirming itself in and as the other – is the ground of divine ecstasy that sex sometimes brings to the surface.
Your pleasure is their pleasure, and theirs is yours. Their joy is your joy, and yours is theirs. This is always true, but when we experience it through sex, it can feel like all of Creation awakening in us at once.
In that light, sex with the other becomes a means of learning that we are not separate from the other, nor they from us. Our equality – established by love – points only at a unity which includes and transcends the body. Sex, like all forms of communication – becomes a site of teaching and learning our fundamental equality and thus healing the perception that we are separate from God.
In a relationship whose foundation is spiritual, the extension allowed and brought forth in sexual union would probably be unthinkably inspiring and healing. I mean, the sex is good, yes. But the extension of the underlying spiritual predicate is transformational, a light in the darkness by which our journey’s end is literally only as far away as a gaze that says – as it were – are you thinking what I’m thinking, and a return gaze which says, yes. Yes.
I think this commentary on the role of sex in our spiritual lives is spot on. It is a topic that is too rarely discussed by religious leaders, even though I believe that many of them know our sexuality can be a part of our spiritual transformation to a more Christ-like existence. Sex in religious traditions is often mired in tired morality discussions. Thank you for elevating the discussion to something that is useful for students of ACIM.
Thank you for reading and sharing, Mary Liz. Sex does get mired in morality analysis but the other thing that happens is that it sometimes just doesn’t get talked about at all. And in ACIM, where it is sometimes possible to confuse “I am not a body” with “there is no body,” the denial of the physical can become really problematic. So I think it’s just good to talk about it sometimes, even if it’s awkward and confusing, even if it feels non-spiritual. Because – as you point out – sexuality and Christ are not adversaries.