Purpose: To accept that the life God gave us has no opposite, cannot change, cannot die, and cannot even sleep. To strive to keep our mind as He created it, to let Him be Lord of our thoughts today. This is a companion lesson to 163, “There is no death. The Son of God is free.”
Morning/evening quiet time: At least five minutes; ideally, thirty or more.
Remember that during the longer practice periods, at this point in the Workbook, you are supposed to do what you feel guided to do and what has worked for you up until this point.
My suggestion for today is to try to get in touch with “mind awake” (8:1). This lesson teaches that our experience of death is not thrust upon us from the outside, but is solely the result of our “idea of death” (2:3). Under the sway of this idea, it says, our mind seems to fall asleep in Heaven and dream of a life separate from God, a life in this world. And yet, says this lesson, the mind “merely seems to go to sleep” (9:2; italics mine). In fact, the mind “cannot change what is its waking state” (6:2). Thus, the appearance of your mind as a volatile, changing field, with thoughts of fear and hope constantly sweeping across it, is an illusion. Your mind is really eternally awake, and as such is completely changeless and unlimited. That is the reality of your mind. Try, then, in your meditation, to get in touch with this reality. Try to leave behind the illusion of your mind as a restless sea, and experience its reality as a boundless and steady light.
Hourly remembrance: One or two minutes as the hour strikes (reduce if circumstances do not permit).
Repeat the idea and then spend a moment resting in the wakefulness that is the reality of your mind. Then thank God for His gifts in the last hour. And ask Him how you can express the truth that there is no death in the hour to come.
Response to temptation: (Suggestion) whenever you feel tempted to acknowledge death in any form—as sorrow, anxiety, weariness, discomfort.
Repeat the idea immediately. Realize that your negative emotion is a denial of life, and use the idea to remind yourself that life is the only reality.
There is a repetition here, or perhaps a statement that I anticipated when, in writing about Lesson 163, I said, “Belief in death is just another form of the ‘tiny, mad idea’ at which ‘the Son of God remembered not [i.e., forgot] to laugh.'” This lesson says that death “is but an idea, irrelevant to what is seen as physical” (3:2). Later it says, “Death is the thought that you are separate from your Creator” (4:1). That is the essence of the idea of death: separation from Life.
This is why we can say, “There is no death.” It is simply impossible. God is Life, and what He creates must be living. To cease living would be to separate from God, to become His opposite. Since God has no opposite, there is no death.
There is no death because what God created shares His Life. There is no death because an opposite to God does not exist. There is no death because the Father and the Son are one. (1:5-7)
“Ideas leave not their source” (3:6). That idea is central to the Course. Ideas exist only in the mind that thinks them. Ideas do not exude out from mind, take on an independent existence, become self-sustaining, and become capable of opposition to the mind that created them. They simply don’t do that.
I am an idea in God’s Mind. I am the thought of “me.” I cannot depart from God’s Mind, live independently of Him, dependent only on myself, capable of a will that opposes God’s. I simply cannot do it. I can only imagine I am doing it.
[Death] is the fixed belief ideas can leave their source, and take on qualities the source does not contain, becoming different from their own origin, apart from it in kind as well as distance, time and form. (4:3)
I cannot do that; I cannot leave my Source and take on qualities not contained in that Source. Therefore, I cannot die.
We need to see that, as Lesson 163 (paragraph 1) said, death takes many forms. The “attraction of death” spoken of in the “Obstacles to Peace” section (T-19.IV) reflects all those forms. This lesson lists a few more:
Yet we have learned that the idea of death takes many forms. It is the one idea which underlies all feelings that are not supremely happy. It is the alarm to which you give response of any kind that is not perfect joy. All sorrow, loss, anxiety and suffering and pain, even a little sigh of weariness, a slight discomfort or the merest frown, acknowledge death. And thus deny you live. (2:3-7)
What is death? Any feeling that is not supremely happy. Any response to anything in our life that is not perfect joy. Can we see how anything less than supreme happiness and perfect joy is a denial of life and an affirmation of death? To be less than perfectly joyful is to assert there is something other than God, other than Life, other than Love; something “other” that dilutes the radiant Being of God.
I am not advocating becoming a bliss idiot, walking around in total denial of the pain and suffering of our lives and of those around us, frantically asserting, “Everything is perfect. None of this is real. It’s all illusion, ignore it. Only God exists.”
Rather, I am encouraging the exact opposite. I am suggesting that we need to start noticing just how much the idea of death influences us. We need to notice those little sighs of weariness, those twinges of anxiety, and recognize that the idea of death underlies them all, the idea that separation from God is real, that something other than God exists, opposing and nullifying His radiance. We need to notice how we believe we are that “something other,” or at least part of it. Notice, and say to God, “I’m believing in death again. I’m feeling separated from You. And I know, therefore, this feeling doesn’t mean anything, because there is one life, and I share it with You.”
It is only when you recognize that you are responsible for those death thoughts that you can truly understand they have no reality except in your own mind. To affirm they have no reality without first taking responsibility for them is unhealthy denial. It leaves them without a source, and they must have a source. So your mind supplies an imagined source in God or somewhere outside yourself, and you are back to the separation thought again, because there is nothing outside God nor outside you. By screaming, “It’s all illusion!” without truly knowing that you are the illusionist, you make the idea of death into something real, something to be fought against and repressed.
To recognize death thoughts as illusion does not require that you do violence to your mind. Seeing beyond illusion is the most natural thing in the world when it happens naturally, as the result of taking responsibility for the illusion. To see the world as illusion does not require concerted and sustained effort. It is not something you can try to do. If you are trying, you’re doing it backwards.
The same principle operates when people say, “I’m trying to see the Christ in him.” You can’t try to see Christ in a person; you either do or you don’t. When your eyes are open and nothing is in the way you don’t have to try to see! You just see.
Spiritual vision is the same. Christ is there, in every person, and you are quite capable of seeing Him there. The problem is, you’ve erected many barriers, many screens, that block your sight. You’re seeing the reflection of your own ideas instead of seeing who the person really is, which is Christ.
The way to spiritual sight, the way to see Christ in a brother, therefore, is to become aware of all the screens you are throwing up, all the illusions you are projecting from your own mind, blocking true vision. Paradoxically, you don’t see Christ in a brother by looking at him, squinting and trying to pretend he is a loving being; you see Christ in him by looking at your own mind, your own thoughts, which are the barrier to vision.
Perhaps you are afraid of the person in some way. He appears to you as a threat of some sort, perhaps prone to attack you physically, or to take your money. Instead of trying to see through that picture of him as a bad person, a threat to yourself, look at that picture itself and ask where it came from. With the Holy Spirit’s help, you will see that it originated entirely in your own mind. It is the sum of your own judgments solidified into an opinion. It is how you have taught yourself to see your brother. And that is all.
You know, or you should, that you are not capable of judgment. You cannot possibly have all the evidence. So you can turn to the Holy Spirit and say, “I recognize that my opinion of my brother is my own creation. It is based on the idea of death, of something separate from and other than God. As such, I know it is only a bad dream. It has no meaning. My brother is not what I think he is, and I am not a bad person for having this thought; I’m just making a mistake. I am willing to let go of it, and since I am its only source, I can let go of it.”
You may go on feeling afraid. The key difference is not whether or not the fear disappears, as it sometimes will. The key difference is that, if the fear (or whatever feeling or judgment it may be) is present, you are aware that you are making it up and it isn’t real. This opens the way for a different vision to dawn on you. If what you have been seeing is illusion, there must be something else, some other way of seeing, that is real.
The vision of Christ, which is what the Course calls this different way of seeing, may not burst on your sight after one application of this mental process. It probably won’t. We’ve got lots and lots of barriers to that vision, and you may have recognized only one of many things preventing you from seeing Christ in your brother. That’s okay. You’ve understood that this particular barrier is an illusion, and affirmed there is another way of seeing your brother. That’s all you have to do. You don’t have to try to find the other way! When you are ready, when the barriers are recognized as something you make up, the vision will just be there.
It will “just be there” because it is already there. The Christ in you already recognizes Himself in your brother. The process is similar to tuning out static in a radio with electronic filters. There is a signal you want to hear, but too much noise and static prevents its being heard. You identify the static, isolate it, electronically “instruct” your equipment to ignore it, and eventually, the clear signal comes through.
What you are doing in the process the Course recommends—looking at the ego and its thoughts of death, identifying them, and deciding to ignore them because they come from an undependable source—is tuning out the static. Keep doing that, and the clear signal of Christ’s vision will come through. It is there, in you, right now. You just can’t “hear” it for all the noise the ego is making.