Reading A Course in Miracles, we realize that although you and I experience sickness mostly in our body, all symptoms are merely reflections of wrong-minded thinking. See for example lessons 136-138 and the “Psychotherapy” pamphlet. One of the major lessons in the ACIM curriculum is that the entire world of form around us is a projection, deliberately chosen by us (as the sleeping Son of God) in a guilt-laden attempt to hide from a wrathful Creator who would certainly annihilate his sinful son over having separated from his Source! This sin-guilt-fear thinking is the ego. It is called wrong-minded thinking in A Course in Miracles. The ego is geared towards constantly distracting our mind to externals, illusory though they may be, so that the sleeping Son of God never looks inside and see the innocence and shared desire of all seemingly fragmented life forms: the yearning to return to the Father, thereby undoing space and time and individuality once and for all.
Ego distractions come in many forms: mild irritations about “objectionable” behavior; judging the weather; the world news, and everything else that you might dislike. Distractions also come in the form of physical illness. Although at first glance this seems to be a separate category, Jesus explains that all experienced effects of wrong-minded thinking, regardless of their perceived form, are the same in content. To the ego it really doesn’t matter whether I experience misery in the world or in my body: the desired distraction of the mind to externals is guaranteed once again. Thus Jesus counsels us not to try to change effects, but to honestly examine the source of the misery: our choice for condemnation and separation. A famous ACIM quote puts it this way: “Seek not to change the world [including your body]; choose, rather, to change your mind about the world” (T-21.In.1.7).
Carefully reading lesson 136, which is among the most important lessons in the workbook according to Kenneth Wapnick, we come to realize that “Sickness is not an accident. Like all defenses, it is an insane device for self-deception. Its purpose is to hide reality, attack it, change it, render it inept…” (W-p1.136.2). Why is it deliberate? On an unconscious level, I see sickness as clear proof that separation from God has actually succeeded. Moreover, I cannot be held responsible, as the world is clearly a cruel place where the kind-hearted such as myself are constantly victimized by people who clearly deserve hell. If anyone is to be accepted back in Heaven without punishment, it must certainly be me. Oh, and look at how I suffer for my error of separating: my sickness surely deserves the compassion of my Creator…? – And so I go on and on, exemplifying Jesus’ assertion that “Sickness is a decision. It is not a thing that happens to you, quite unsought, which makes you weak and brings you suffering. […] Now you are sick, that truth may go away and threaten your establishments [of separation, of individuality] no more.” (W-136.7.4)
Healing, then, must be a choice of the mind as well. Jesus explains that this requires a willingness to accept “the truth of what I am”, that is, pure spirit. So any time I feel sick I can remind myself that I have… “again misplaced myself, and made a bodily identity which will attack the body, for the mind is sick.” (W-136.19.2) I can then tell myself: “I have forgotten what I really am, for I mistook my body for my self. Sickness is a defense against the truth. But I am not a body. And my mind cannot attack. So I can not be sick.” The result, though, is most likely that I will feel guilty and depressed, because the physical symptoms do not depart immediately by realizing this truth. In fact, many times the physical symptoms seem totally unaffected by however loving my thoughts seem to be during the day.
At this point we should realize that we’re prone to what Kenneth Wapnick calls “level confusion”. Jesus’ statements about sickness of the mind are framed from a Level-I perspective, where there is no such thing as a world and separation – there is only mind. From a level-II perspective though, in the seeming dream of time and space and perception, this world and my body feel palpably real, and we’re not asked to deny this. In this world, illusory though it may be, there are choices to make, in which I choose to be guided by either wrong-minded thinking (ego) or right-minded thinking (Holy Spirit). The beauty of A Course in Miracles is that is does not chide us for our physical experiences (and pain!) in the illusory world.
Sometimes, our physical pain is too much of a hindrance to practice any spiritual message. Rejecting medicine as “a form of magic that will not truly heal”, is a mistake that results from level-confusion. Keeping yourself in pain hardly reflects the kindness that Jesus advocates in his curriculum. In Chapter 2 of the Text book we read: “All material means that you accept as remedies for bodily ills are restatements of magic principles […] It does not follow, however, that the use of such agents of corrective purposes is evil. Sometimes the illness has a sufficiently strong hold over the mind to render a person temporarily inaccessible to the Atonement. In this case it may be wise to utilize compromise approach to mind and body, in which something from the outside is temporarily given healing relief.” (T-2.IV.4).
So if you experience a headache, please do take an aspirin. If you are confronted with a more serious disease, please do follow your doctor’s advice. The use of medicine may not result in healing as Jesus defines it in terms of undoing guilt to reach the real world in the mind, but it does make some room in the mind, allowing you to reach the calmness that you need to become mindful in the first place. Please do not advise your family or friends against medical treatment, by arguing that such use of magic will not truly heal at all. That’s not being loving; that’s erroneously thinking you know best. If you open your heart to the voice of the Holy Spirit (your true intuition), you’ll know that any intervention that can alleviate pain (and especially the resulting fear) can be useful, at least temporarily. First things first: you first need physical healing relief before you experience the space in your mind to work on Jesus’ mind-training curriculum.
If you are physically okay and are looking for spiritual advice to bring about the healing of your unforgiving mind, which is true healing, it’s not even necessary to find a psychotherapist who centers on A Course in Miracles. True healing is in your own mind. No-one can change your mind for you. Seeking a psychotherapist of a certain spiritual school is often a subtle defense to give away responsibility for the mind-work that you must do to undo your own ego-focus. There is only one Psychotherapist, who speaks with perfect clarity throughout the day if you only invite Him in: that’s the Holy Spirit, who is in you in a very literal sense (T-5.II.3). An effective way of achieving this openness-of-mind would be, for example, to study Kenneth Wapnick’s magnificent series “Journey through … [Textbook | Workbook | Manual for teachers] of a Course in Miracles.“. It’s a great way to fully understand why, citing lesson 140, “only salvation can be said to cure”, but at the same time aspirins are okay.
Also see my seven “guidelines for living in an illusory world” in “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles”. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com: