Use of the Body
This transcription is a segment of a one-on-one dialogue between David and a student of A Course in Miracles. The focus of this conversation is the topic of communication and the use of the body by the ego and by the Holy Spirit.
David: Despite the fact that the body will break down and degenerate and never will be immortal, and is very temporal and transitory like everything else in the projected cosmos, the mind has a big investment in trying to make it a good home. Therefore if it is seen that I can make it live longer by exercising and eating the right things, if I can make it more comfortable by doing these things, I’ll do it. But the flip side is that there is a strong identification and belief in the body. The body in this perspective is not seen as nothing. It’s seen as something and that’s why the great search for health is in the wrong place. Health can accurately be described as inner peace, as a mind that has let go of judgment, of ordering thoughts, a mind that reaches a true perception, a more stabilized perception, is a mind at peace. This is a mind that truly is healed and truly is healthy.
ACIM student: So even to consider the body as an instrument that the Holy Spirit uses, I have to regard that body as nothing. I think there’s that trap of thinking that because it is going to be used by the Holy Spirit, that somehow it’s something. So then I have to take care of it in a certain way. I am responsible for the kind of food that I put in it and the exercises that I provide for it, etc, etc. It’s as if I am saying, `this is a temple of the Holy Spirit, so I have to regard it with respect and that means this, that and the other.’ But this, that and the other are just ways of the mind validating that the body is something when it’s nothing. It’s only when it can be seen as nothing that it can be turned over and really used by the Holy Spirit.
David: Yes, there is a subtle trap of denying the body. When we talk about the body as nothing, it’s in a very deep ultimate sense of what it truly is. The Course does not ask us to deny the perception of the body. The most helpful way to come at this is to come at it with a sense of purpose, or with the `What for?’ question. What is it for? This brings us back to the mind level. What is helpful here is to go into the Course and look at the ego’s purpose for the body and the Holy Spirit’s purpose for the body. As that gets cleared out, sorted out in the mind and the mind is clearly able to discern the ego’s purpose from the Holy Spirit’s purpose and voluntarily gives up the ego’s purposes then the body becomes more and more peripheral in awareness. It approaches nothing.
ACIM student: So, there is never a necessity of focusing on the body. The thing to do is just focus on the purpose and the rest will fall into place accordingly. The way to get to a point of regarding the body as nothing is by focusing on the purpose.
David: Yes. The idea that you brought up of the body as a temple is an important thing. It is regarded as the temple of the Holy Ghost in the Bible. This is a starting point, a stepping stone. This is a step away from making the body evil. It’s one thing to call the body unreal or nothing, but the ego would take the step to say that the body is evil. In saying that it is a temple for the Holy Spirit is saying that it can be used by the Holy Spirit’s purpose. In that sense and in that sense only is the body a temple. It has nothing to do with the body in and of itself. It has to do with that intention, that purpose in mind. We could say that the body that is used solely for communication is a body that is being used by the Holy Spirit.
ACIM student: And then we get into discussion of communication. Communication isn’t necessarily what I have been educated to believe that it is. It does not have to include two bodies.
ACIM student: It happens at a mind level and that is the only place communication happens is at a mind level. So, why do I need a body to communicate if it only happens at the mind level?
David: Every mind that seems to believe in the world, believes in separation and in the body. It believes that communication has been limited so that communion or mind communication, even telepathy… you could give it many different words… has been blocked, pushed out of awareness. So the body has literally been imposed as a limit on communication. It appears in this world that if two bodies aren’t together, that communication is limited. They can’t talk to each other unless they use a telephone or walkie-talkie or some kind of aid. You need material aids to help with communication. But in the ultimate sense we are back to belief, that when the body is believed in… when the world is believed in… the world is a limit on communication. The world was made to defend against communication because the Holy Spirit is our communication link with the Father, and the world was made to cover over that. So the Holy Spirit has to work with the lower-mind and the beliefs. As the mind lets go of it’s beliefs in the world, it appears, gradually, that powers of the mind are returned to it; telepathy, clairvoyance and intuitions and so on, seem to be more prevalent to the mind, when actually the mind is just returning to it’s natural condition. These are not super powers that rare individuals can develop. These are very natural communication…
ACIM student: So the communication is always there, it’s always been there but it’s covered over? There’s just an unawareness.
David: Yes, and it’s a strong investment in the body that does this. The body is the chosen home of the deceived mind. So we get back to the purposes, whereas communication is the sole function or the purpose for the body of the Holy Spirit, the ego uses it for pride, pleasure and attack. Those are different purposes that actually constrain communication.
ACIM student: So even before we get into the pride, pleasure and attack of the ego uses for the body, to complete what we were saying about the Holy Spirit’s use of the body… My question is if communication is solely at a mind level, why have a body to be used for communication? I think what I hear you saying is that as long as the mind believes in the body, then the Holy Spirit uses the body for communication. It’s only the belief in the body that has the body enter into the communication at all.
David: Yes. There are no bodies in the Holy Instant. Revelation is beyond bodies. It’s direct communication from God to God’s creation. As the mind gives up it’s false ideas, beliefs and judgments it gets drawn into the Holy Instant where communication is completely restored. In a sense bodies are like symbols. The Holy Spirit will reach the mind in whatever way that He can. It can be through the voice of a friend, a song or billboard, a record lyric and on and on. There are many ways and forms. But in that sense, the body is a symbol. The Holy Spirit is using symbols to reach the deceived mind because the deceived mind believes in symbols. In a metaphorical sense… as we move forward and get clearer and clearer and are able to line up with the Holy Spirit’s purpose… we are asked to reach our brothers who believe in the world, who believe in time and separation, and reach them using symbols that they can hear and that they can understand. Once again, we have Jesus who was a great example of that. He spoke in parables when he spoke to the masses and spoke of higher ideals and concepts particularly with the apostles and disciples and those that had the ears to hear. But in both cases used the Holy Spirit speaking through him using symbols to reach the mind where it could grasp it. You also have examples of Jesus going off into silence, into communion with the Father where not a word was spoken. Here we have a range of communication with words, which is still very crude… but as the beliefs that are let go of in the mind, we get back to Communion which is totally wordless.
ACIM student: Let’s go back to the ego’s uses for the body. It’s uses are pride, pleasure and attack. Do you want to address those?
David: We can take them one at a time. Pride gets to a topic that we were talking about yesterday, the subject / object split, or the belief in personhood. All pride really comes down to a desperate attempt to maintain a belief in personhood, of being an individual person and actually perceiving other individual persons. This keeps that split between self and other in the mind. It reinforces that split. In a sense of drawing attention to oneself, pride in accomplishments, pride in physique, appearance, country, sports teams, family… a lot of the things in the world that are considered very good.
ACIM student: Talk about spiritual pride.
David: Spiritual pride would be taking pride in what one knows… of turning the spiritual journey into a book-learning feat or into a display of abilities. But still underneath that there is a motive to draw attention to the small self, to the personhood. This is a very subtle trap. With a lot of people who have worked at letting to of their belief in separation in the mind… psychic abilities have begun to arise… telepathy or levitation or psycho-kinesis, different types of seeming powers. But the mind can latch on to that and say, `Look at me! Look at what I can do!’. But the ‘I’ is still the little I, the personal I. You could have it in the sense of becoming a lecturer, or a workshop leader, a healer. When that gets personified, when the mind identifies with the person as being the focal point of that, that I’m the healer it is still trying to draw attention to itself. It’s not doing as Jesus did, pointing to heaven saying, `It’s the Father, it’s not I who speaks. It’s not I who am the source of healing, but the Father in heaven.’ He always pointed to the Father, always taking the second place, always `I’m the creation, the Father is the Creator.’ This is a sense of true humility of a mind that knows what it is. It knows what it’s source is and it isn’t taking over the kingpin role of being the center of the universe in the sense of the personal thought-form self as being the center. It always points to the Father. Spiritual pride can come in many ways, shapes and forms. It could come with a group where there is an identity that is, `We’ve got the way, we know the way. The rest of the world doesn’t.’ This is another spiritual trap among many that still attempts to identify with a small `I’, a personal self.
Pleasure. Pleasure is part of the world of duality. You can speak of pleasure and pain, these are two extremes. Both are equally unreal and both are defenses against the truth in that both are helpful techniques for the ego to convince the mind that the body is real and to maintain the body identity. The mind can perceive the flesh or recognize the spirit, but it’s one or the other. They are mutually exclusive in awareness. So that if one is aware of the body and the world, then the recognition of the spirit is kept from awareness. So the pursuit of pleasure is a distractive device and a device that really anchors the mind in believing that the body is real. It seems to be very attractive which is what the Course refers to as the `attraction to guilt’. The deceived mind does not equate guilt and pleasure. Pleasure is seen as something desirable, something to be sought after and something good. A lot of times you will hear, `God wants you to enjoy yourself. Take part in the menus of the world. Enjoy the variety and the spices and the many pleasures of the world.’ But from the metaphysical perspective, first of all, God is spirit. God does not know about the physical projected world. God only knows his Creations or his Creation which is the Son, and he knows him as perfect. This is a pure abstract, infinite relationship that has nothing to do with form in any way. So when we get down to the ego using the body for pleasure… the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain… basically the mind is unaware that they are the same, that by pursuing pleasure one is also pursuing pain. The pleasure is a guise.
ACIM student: And both of them act as substitutes for God.
David: Yes. We’ve talked about the pursuit of wealth in this world and the belief in poverty and lack in a material sense. These are many forms of the same kind of split, of the same guise. That if I am poor and lacking and it’s a world of scarcity, that I can yearn for a better day and better times and more possessions and an easier life, so to speak. Or those that actually do seem to accumulate and build up the things of the world that are supposed to bring the good life, still feel the pain and the anguish and the depression. We still find the same thing, that the mind is still seeking for happiness, peace and contentment, in the world. It’s just seeking in the wrong place. It’s in the mind and in the letting go of the false beliefs, where the peace, contentment and happiness come. So that’s a quick look at pleasure.
Attack is something that is very important as a defense against the truth. It’s a witness that separation has occurred. To truly see that separation is impossible seems to be at bay or at odds with what the body’s eyes show because as one looks around through the body’s eyes and a distorted perception, one sees attack in many different forms; verbal attack, physical attack, guns, tanks, bombs, weapons, knives, arguments in all areas and levels. It seems to be a world where attack is a common experience. But the mind cannot attack, the mind is abstract, it is one. It can only make up body fantasies where attack seems to be real. While the ego uses the body for attack and it’s a fantasy of attack, it definitely makes guilt seem real, that if attack is perceived as real then guilt is justified. And if guilt is justified how can one be wholly innocent? How can one be the innocent child of God as one was created?
ACIM student: So you’re saying it’s fantasy because it’s all pretend and made up?
David: Yes, it’s made up. It’s just on the screen. The deceived mind wants to see the conflict, not in the mind, but in the world. Under the ego’s council, the mind will look for it in the world. Now, this is not to say that wars per se or sports or verbal abuse is evil or bad. Just the interpretation has to be looked at. A healed mind can calmly look upon any sight in the world. The body’s eyes will still report to the mind changes in circumstances, changes in the way things look, such as with symptoms and so on. But a healed mind just puts them all into one category; that they are unreal. You have to have a clear metaphysical idea of why this is so, of why sickness must be impossible, of why competition cannot be in the world, of why there can’t be victims and victimizers in the world, that it’s all in the mind, that it all comes down to that subject / object split.
To finish up the point that the ego uses the body for pride, pleasure and attack… they are all the same. Pride and pleasure are seeming forms of attack. The mind that believes that it is an ego, that has identified with the ego… that is an attack thought, that is an attack on the Christ within that mind. Even though it has no basis in reality, it is given reality by the mind’s acceptance of that thought, within that framework. To the mind, it seems real. All these uses of the body; for pride or recognition, personal self or for pleasure and so on… this is all attraction of guilt. This is all a way of concealing the belief in the mind, the belief in separation, and keeping the mind distracted on the screen. In that sense, it comes down to attack thoughts. The uses that the ego puts to the body, this is all part of attack thoughts. Now, if we pull it back to the ultimate sense, to the right minded perception, the mind cannot attack. These thoughts are unreal thoughts, even these thoughts that are called `attack thoughts’ in the workbook, are unreal thoughts. These are thoughts that have not come from the mind of God. They do not exist, only the thoughts that come from God have existence.
ACIM student: So, to speak of attack thoughts is just a manner of speaking?
David: Yes. They are unreal. A mind that is invested in them is deceived and will experience the hallucination of pain and upset and despair and sorrow and depression and so forth. This is because it has invested in thoughts, in a thought system that has not come from God. The right mind sees that attack is literally impossible. It sees the false as false. It is not invested in these thoughts, it sees them as false and knows them as false. This is no different than saying that the Holy Spirit sees the false ideas and the false beliefs, but looks to the altar, look to the Atonement, the undefiled altar and is certain of the Christ.
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