Sun, May 20th - 1:59PM
ACIM Basics #4 - The Nature of Life
What is the nature of life according to the Course?
The true "life," which is created by God, and which is of His living Spirit, has nothing to do with what we regard as life in the world, according to A Course in Miracles. That life which is the nature of God and Heaven is spirit: non-material, without opposite, and eternal. Perhaps the clearest statement in the Course about the nature of life -- what it is and what it is not -- comes in a passage from "The Laws of Chaos," which is section II of Text Chapter 23. The section begins with a gentle mockery of our worship of the body and belief in its life:
Can you paint rosy lips upon a skeleton, dress it in loveliness, pet it and pamper it, and make it live? And can you be content with an illusion that you are living?
There is no life outside of Heaven. Where
God created life, there life must be. In any state apart from Heaven
[i.e., the physical universe] life is illusion. At best it seems like
life; at worst, like death. Yet both are judgments on what is not life,
equal in their inaccuracy and lack of meaning. Life not in Heaven is
impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere. Outside of
Heaven, only the conflict of illusion stands; senseless, impossible and
beyond all reason, and yet perceived as an eternal barrier to Heaven.
Illusions are but forms. Their content is never true
In the Course, Jesus explains that the nature of life is Oneness with our Source in Heaven where the Mind of Christ and the Mind of God are One, and there is no illusion of a mind separate from that Oneness, let alone illusion of a separate body which seems to live on its own apart from totality.
Another very significant and telling passage in the Course states:
When your body and your ego and your dreams are gone, you will know that you will last forever. Perhaps you think this is accomplished through death, but nothing is accomplished through death, because death is nothing. Everything is accomplished through life, and life is of the mind and in the mind. The body neither lives nor dies, because it cannot contain you who are life (T-6.V(A).1:1-4).
In the Course, Life, spirit, and Mind are essentially synonymous terms, sharing the characteristics of formlessness, changelessness, and eternal life. In the world, what is identified as life in the body, with characteristics such as brain waves and heartbeats, is not what the Course means by life. For instance, workbook Lesson 167 is entitled: "There is one life, and that I share with God."
From the perspective of the Course, what we regard as life -- a physical, biological and psychological individual self -- is a parody of our true life in the Self of Christ that God created as a non-separate extension of Himself, within and not separate from, His Mind..
Without an understanding of how life is regarded in A Course in Miracles, those who undertake to study the Course may very well confuse themselves, both in understanding the Course's non-dualistic metaphysical teachings, and in applying the practical teachings about forgiveness in their personal lives, since the metaphysical foundation supports the unique understanding and practice of forgiveness taught in ACIM.
I think that accurately understanding the metaphysical teachings of the Course is important for at least three reasons that I can identify:
1. They help us to understand why the world is the way it is and why our personal lives are the way they are ("The world you see is the delusional system of those made mad by guilt" T-13.IN. 2:2);
2 They help us to understand why it is that what we forgive our brother for is what he has NOT done: we are forgiving our own self-accusations and guilt projected outward;
3. They help us to understand that we ourselves do not do forgiveness; that as separate individuals who have a personality and a body we are not important and are not in charge of either the Atonement or forgiveness. In other words, we are not special and that to the extent we think we are, we will interfere with forgiveness, therefore impede our own ability to accept the Atonement.
Some relevant quotes from the Course:
The body was not made by love. Yet love does not condemn it and can use it lovingly, respecting what the Son of God has made and using it to save him from illusions.
Would you not have the instruments of separation reinterpreted as means for salvation, and used for purposes of love?...
It is insane to use the body as the scapegoat for guilt, directing its attack [whether upon yourself or the self of another whom you think is separate from you] and blaming it for what you wished it to do (T-18.VI.4:7-5:1; 6:1).
A concept of the self [both of what you think is yourself as well as what you think is the self of another] is made by you. It bears no likeness to yourself at all. It is an idol, made to take the place of your reality as Son of God. The concept of the self the world would teach is not the thing that it appears to be (T-31.V.2:1-4).
Your image of yourself [and others, including God and Jesus] cannot withstand the Will of God....
The self you made is not the Son of God. Therefore, this self does not exist at all. And anything it seems to do and think means nothing. It is neither bad nor good. It is unreal, and nothing more than that. . . . What power can this self you made possess, when it would contradict the Will of God? (W-pI.93. 4:2, 5:1-5, 9).