Almost without exception, we do not really like our physical body. We usually do in our twenties, but as we get older and notice the slow but inevitable decay in little pains and dysfunctions (if not worse), most of us eventually adopt a strategy of ‘coping with it’ rather than loving it. In fact, to many spiritualities the body is seen as something negative. For example, the old Gnostic schools (about two thousand years ago) regarded the body as filth, something to be loathed and to overcome by training the mind to acquire again the forgotten knowledge of what we originally were as beings of light.
One would expect that A Course in Miracles, being a strictly nondualistic spiritual and psychological thought system in which everything made up of matter is regarded as illusory, would reject any focus on the body as well. But this is not the case at all. Although Jesus does assert that “in and of itself the body has no value” (T-8.VII.2:7), he also emphasizes that “the body is a wholly neutral thing” (W-pII.294.1). Whether the body is helpful or not totally depends on the purpose we give it. Remember, in A Course in Miracles everything centers on purpose. It is the same with the physical body.
In a sense, the whole idea of Jesus’ curriculum of A Course in Miracles is to teach us that, contrary to what we all experience daily, we are not a body: “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me [i.e., as the pure spirit that is the extension of God’s Love]” (W-pI.201-220). We may like the idea intellectually, but the moment we inadvertently experience pain, we ought to realize that we do not really believe it. Not yet anyway. Still, at several places in the text Jesus tells us that the body merely follows the dictates of the mind, as does a puppet on strings. This is because the state of the body mirrors the state of the mind; the latter is the cause, the former the effect.
Any illness, therefore, is a sure sign that the mind has used the body to attack. This need not be physical attack. Any negative thought also manifests itself in the body eventually (first in the quality of the bloodstream, as any good endocrinologist will tell you). But Jesus takes it one step further. Even simply regarding yourself and others as primarily a physical entity is a form of attack. This is because it is a focus on separation, and separation is attack. As Jesus explains in chapter 8 on using the body as a means of communication: “Perceiving the body as a separate entity cannot but foster illness, because it is not true.” (T-8.VII.11.4)
On the other hand: “Healing is the result of using the body solely for communication.” (T-8.VII.10:1) This is a change of purpose. “Health is nothing more than united purpose.” (T-8.VII.13:4) If I choose to have my mind be guided by the Holy Spirit, I am changing the purpose I give to the body: “If you use it only to reach the minds of those who believe they are bodies, and teach them through the body that this is not so, you will understand the power of the mind that is in you. […] In the service of uniting, it [the body] becomes a beautiful lesson in communion, which as value until communion is.” (T-8.VII-3:3) And, a little further on: “The body is beautiful or ugly, peaceful or savage, helpful or harmful, according to the use to which it is put. […] If the body becomes a means you give to the Holy Spirit to use on behalf of the union of the Sonship, you will not see anything physical except as what it is.” (T-8.VII-4:3-5).
Jesus is telling us that even merely regarding a brother as a body, a physical entity, means we have attacked him because we choose to see him not as he is. However, since the phenomenal world is merely a projection of the mind, it must follow that we have attacked ourselves first: we regard ourselves as merely a body, a physical entity. The solution, as always, is to muster the willingness to step back and hand the guidance of our thoughts over to Jesus or the Holy Spirit: “Rejoice, then, that of yourself you can do nothing. You are not of yourself. He of Whom you are has willed your power and glory for you, with which you can perfectly accomplish His holy Will for you when you accept it for yourself.” (T-8.VII.6:1-3).
To accept this truth for myself, I need the daily diligent practice of not seeing any of my brothers as a body; without exception. “Whenever you see another as limited to or by the body, you are imposing this limit on yourself. Are you willing to accept this, when your whole purpose for learning should be to escape from limitations? […] You have condemned yourself, but condemnation is not of God. Therefore it is not true.” (T-8.VII.14:3;15:4) Therefore, each time my eyes see a body, I should try to see beyond that physical entity and see pure spirit (or light) instead, which then merely mirrors my own essence. This sure isn’t easy all the time, as bodies are prone to attack each other, which again mirrors the wrong-minded dark unforgiveness spots in my own mind.
Still, the Holy Spirit gladly uses the world in which we seem to live in to present us with just the lessons we need. It’s encouraging to read in chapter 9: “When you correct a brother, you are telling him he is wrong. He may be making no sense at the time, and it is certain that, if he is speaking from the ego, he will not be making sense. But your task is still to tell him he is right. You do not tell him this verbally, if he is speaking foolishly. He needs correction at another level, because his error is at another level. He is still right, because he is a Son of God. His ego is always wrong, no matter what it says or does. If you point out the errors of your brother’s ego you must be seeing through yours, because the Holy Spirit does not perceive his errors. […] When you react at all to errors, you are not listening to the Holy Spirit. He has merely disregarded them [his errors], and if you attend to them you are not hearing Him.” (T-9.III.2:4)
To conclude: I can use my body constructively by giving up my judgment (condemnation, really) of what my brother’s body seems to be doing (physically or psychologically). In fact, giving up judgment is the choice to step back and let Jesus (or the Holy Spirit) lead the way. Slowly I come to realize that each body I perceive mirrors how I see my own body, which in turn reflects the state of my mind. I know I am on the right road to inner peace once I start seeing in people around me chiefly loving light where I used to see a physical entity. Whenever any body seems to cause me trouble (be it my own, in illness, or someone else’s, for example boisterous youth or terrorists) I know that the Holy Spirit is at work, through bodies, in the classroom I call my life. It may not always feel comfortable at first, but if I then practice in asking Jesus or the Holy Spirit in seeing this differently, without judgment, I can be sure I am using my body (which, again, reflects my mind) for the purpose of communication and communion, which is the Will of God: “To communicate with part of God Himself is to reach beyond the Kingdom to its Creator, through His Voice which He has established as part of you.” (T-8.VII.5:9). So put your neutral body to constructive use today!
See also “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: