ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading for October 29
27. WHAT IS DEATH?
Death is the central dream from which all illusions stem. Is it not madness to think of life as being born, aging, losing vitality, and dying in the end? We have asked this question before, but now we need to consider it more carefully. It is the one fixed, unchangeable belief of the world that all things in it are born only to die. This is regarded as “the way of nature”, not to be raised to question, but to be accepted as the “natural” law of life. The cyclical, the changing and unsure; the undependable and the unsteady, waxing and waning in a certain way upon a certain path,—all this is taken as the Will of God. And no one asks if a benign Creator could will this.
In this perception of the universe as God created it, it would be impossible to think of Him as loving. For who has decreed that all things pass away, ending in dust and disappointment and despair, can but be feared. He holds your little life in his hand but by a thread, ready to break it off without regret or care, perhaps today. Or if he waits, yet is the ending certain. Who loves such a god knows not of love, because he has denied that life is real. Death has become life’s symbol. His world is now a battleground, where contradiction reigns and opposites make endless war. Where there is death is peace impossible.
Death is the symbol of the fear of God. His Love is blotted out in the idea, which holds it from awareness like a shield held up to obscure the sun. The grimness of the symbol is enough to show it cannot coexist with God. It holds an image of the Son of God in which he is “laid to rest” in devastation’s arms, where worms wait to greet him and to last a little while by his destruction. Yet the worms as well are doomed to be destroyed as certainly. And so do all things live because of death. Devouring is nature’s “law of life”. God is insane, and fear alone is real.
The curious belief that there is part of dying things that may go on apart from what will die, does not proclaim a loving God nor re-establish any grounds for trust. If death is real for anything, there is no life. Death denies life. But if there is reality in life, death is denied. No compromise in this is possible. There is either a god of fear or One of Love. The world attempts a thousand compromises, and will attempt a thousand more. Not one can be acceptable to God’s teachers, because not one could be acceptable to God. He did not make death because He did not make fear. Both are equally meaningless to Him.
The “reality” of death is firmly rooted in the belief that God’s Son is a body. And if God created bodies, death would indeed be real. But God would not be loving. There is no point at which the contrast between the perception of the real world and that of the world of illusions becomes more sharply evident. Death is indeed the death of God, if He is Love. And now His Own creation must stand in fear of Him. He is not Father, but destroyer. He is not Creator, but avenger. Terrible His Thoughts and fearful His image. To look on His creations is to die.
“And the last to be overcome will be death”. Of course! Without the idea of death there is no world. All dreams will end with this one. This is salvation’s final goal; the end of all illusions. And in death are all illusions born. What can be born of death and still have life? But what is born of God and still can die? The inconsistencies, the compromises and the rituals the world fosters in its vain attempts to cling to death and yet to think love real are mindless magic, ineffectual and meaningless. God is, and in Him all created things must be eternal. Do you not see that otherwise He has an opposite, and fear would be as real as love?
Teacher of God, your one assignment could be stated thus: Accept no compromise in which death plays a part. Do not believe in cruelty, nor let attack conceal the truth from you. What seems to die has but been misperceived and carried to illusion. Now it becomes your task to let the illusion be carried to the truth. Be steadfast but in this; be not deceived by the “reality” of any changing form. Truth neither moves nor wavers nor sinks down to death and dissolution. And what is the end of death? Nothing but this; the realization that the Son of God is guiltless now and forever. Nothing but this. But do not let yourself forget it is not less than this.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 29
Where darkness was I look upon the light.
Father, our eyes are opening at last. Your holy world awaits us, as our sight is finally restored and we can see. We thought we suffered. But we had forgot the Son whom You created. Now we see that darkness is our own imagining, and light is there for us to look upon. Christ’s vision changes darkness into light, for fear must disappear when love has come. Let me forgive Your holy world today, that I may look upon its holiness and understand it but reflects my own.
Our Love awaits us as we go to Him, and walks beside us showing us the way. He fails in nothing. He the End we seek, and He the Means by which we go to Him.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #175: The following three questions all address the issue of death and so will be answered together:
i: I would like to know more about “death solves nothing.”
ii: It is common for us to say when a person dies that he or she is finally “at peace.” Does death of the ego not release us from it’s fear based thinking and grant us peace?
iii: Would you kindly explain what A Course in Miracles teaches regarding finding peace after death?
A: Since everyone in this world suffers the excruciating pain of believing they are separated from their true Home and their Creator, there are times throughout one’s life that the thought of escape from this pain would seem to be a blessing. In this instance, death represents escape from our pain. And yet, A Course in Miracles teaches us that we are not our bodies: “The body is the symbol of what you think you are. It is clearly a separation device, and therefore does not exist (T.6.V.A.2:2,3). Therefore we need not escape from our bodies, whether they be physical, psychological, emotional, astral, etc. What we do need to escape from, however, is the thought of separation, and this is accomplished through the process of forgiveness. If the mind has not been totally healed of the thought of separation once the body “dies,” the unforgiveness that it holds will be played out in other times and other forms until forgiveness is perfected.
“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” (T.6.V.A.1:1,2).
At other times, we are may believe this world to be a spiritual testing ground, and death symbolizes an end to our testing, and our ticket back Home. Or we may believe that once we die, our egos are automatically transcended, and we will be at peace. Beliefs such as this tempt one to want death to come sooner rather than later. “There is a risk of thinking death is peace, because the world equates the body with the Self which God created” (T.27.VII.10:2). It is important to keep in mind that the “death of the ego” does not come from the body’s death, but rather from the process of forgiveness, which only occurs within the mind. And, our bodies may die with or without completing this process.
You can see in any of this instances how we are tempted to attribute pain to our body rather than to our mind. Once we have learned where the real problem lies, the Holy Spirit can begin to use our body to teach us our true identity as a mind: “The Holy Spirit, as always, takes what you have made [the body] and translates it into a learning device….He reinterprets what the ego uses as an argument for separation into a demonstration against it (T.6.V.A.2:4,5).
So death (which is nothing) of the body (also nothing) solves nothing (the thought of separation, another nothing).
Q #68: What happens to the mind after the demise of the body? Does the mind go home and re-join, although it never left? What happens to the ego? Where can I find this answer in the Text?
A: The answer to your questions lies in understanding the Course’s teaching on life and death, contrasted with the ego’s version. It is very important to remember that the Course refers to death as the choice in the mind to believe the ego’s definition of who we are: sinful, fearful, guilty, separated individuals imprisoned in bodies. This belief is the ego’s way of dealing a death blow to our awareness of who we really are as God’s innocent Son, and this is what the Course calls “death.” When the Course speaks of “life” it is always referring to our life in Heaven with God. “There is no life outside of Heaven” (T.23.II.19:1).
With that in mind there are several passages in the Course that address death, the mind, the body and the ego that are helpful in understanding the points you bring up. 1)The Course tells us the mind is not in the body: “It (mind) cannot make a body, nor abide within a body” (W.pI.167.6:3); “A mind and body cannot both exist. Make no attempt to reconcile the two, for one denies the other can be real. If you are physical, your mind is gone from your self- concept, for it has no place in which it could be really part of you. If you are spirit, then the body must be meaningless to your reality” (W.p.I.96.3:4,5,6,7).
Therefore there cannot be any change to the condition of the mind due to the demise of the body, nothing happens to it and it does not go anywhere. This is difficult for us to understand because most of us identify with our bodies, but it is essential to understanding the Course’s teaching. You are correct in saying that in truth the mind never left its home in Heaven, where it abides in Oneness. Our illusory experience in this dream is the result of a thought in the sleeping mind of the Son, who believes the separation actually occurred. The mind does not return home when the body dies. The mind returns home when it makes a final choice to accept the Atonement and no longer identify with the ego thought system. It thus awakens to the truth that it never left Heaven, never separated from its Source.
The ego is also not in the body; it is the thought of separation in the mind which does not change with the death of the body: “The ego is the part of the mind that believes in division” (T.5.V.3:1). The ego is not in the body but does identify with the body. We too identify with the body when we choose the ego thought system, which is why we accept the body’s experience of death and believe in its significance. With the ego we see it as “…the central dream from which all illusions stem…It is the one fixed, unchangeable belief of the world that all things in it are born only to die. This is regarded as ‘the way of nature,’ not to be raised to question, but to be accepted as the ‘natural’ law of life” (M.27.1:1,4,5). Although the ego does not die with the demise of the body, because it is a thought in the mind, it is obsessed with death; fearing it, seeking it, using it to prove its reality and the reality of the body. It may be helpful to review “The Attraction of Death” (T.19.IV.C). Our experience in learning a new identity by questioning our beliefs of who we think we are, freeing ourselves to accept the Holy Spirit’s message of who we really are, will enable us to see the death of the body differently and open our minds to a new perception and experience of the life the Course speaks of: “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, 2, 3,4).