The birth of Christ

What, isn’t that a bit late for a blog topic, a full week after Christmas? Well, apart from the observation that for many people Christmas isn’t primarily about the birth of Jesus of Nazareth anymore but rather simply yet another excuse to forget about life’s ‘problems’ for a while, “Christ” in A Course in Miracles denotes not just Jesus but the entire Sonship, made up of all seemingly separated life forms combined. So I chose the blog title ‘The birth of Christ’ as a reminder that from a Course perspective, this Season ought to be about inviting the Christ Mind in us to be ‘reborn’ again, that is, remembered again in the mind, which is what you and I are in reality, right now. You and I are not separated bodies but connected minds, and the quality of our lives directly mirrors the quality of the thoughts we choose, which in turn mirrors the amount of inner peace we will experience.

So ‘the birth of Christ’ should be read as ‘remembering who you are in essence, and practicing that realisation in thought, word, and action on a daily basis’. You and I are an integral (holographic) part of the Son of God, Who was created by Love as Love. “Teach only love, for that is what you are”, we read in (T-6.13:1). Each time I remember my function of seeing the sameness in myself and my brother, whoever it may be in whatever circumstance, Christ is metaphorically ‘reborn’ in my mind. Each rebirth is therefore nothing more (but also nothing less) than a ‘re-minder’ to myself that although I still choose to experience myself as a seemingly separated individual on a planet in time and space, the Christ Mind is nevertheless within me (poetically speaking: within my heart), and I want to reconnect to that by switching the inner teacher in my mind from ego to Holy Spirit.

In the introduction to the Fifth Review in the Workbook in particular (just before lesson 171), Jesus addresses this notion of the rebirth of Christ in our minds. Let’s review some key snippets from this inspiring introduction. “This is the thought which should precede the thoughts that we review. Each [lesson to follow] but clarifies some aspect of this thought, or helps it be more meaningful, more personal and true, and more descriptive of the holy Self we share and now prepare to know again: God is but Love, and therefore so am I. This Self alone knows Love. This Self alone is perfectly consistent in Its Thoughts; knows Its Creator, understands Itself, is perfect in Its knowledge and Its Love, and never changes from Its constant state of union with Its Father and Itself” (W-pI.RV-In.4.1:-5). This ‘Self’ is the Christ, our collective true Identity as part of God, Who is Love.

So we can see that the ‘rebirth of Christ’ can happen to us many times even during one single day. We might even say that each time we manage to truly forgive a person, a situation or an event, we’ve allowed the Christ in ourselves to be reborn again. Jesus then comments: “Let us raise our hearts from dust to life, as we remember this is promised us, and that this course was sent to open up the path of light to us, and teach us, step by step, how to return to the eternal Self we thought we lost. (W-pI.RV-In.5:4). And then Jesus applies the concepts of rebirth and renewal once again to himself, though to be manifested in anyone who chooses his line of thought: “I am renewed each time a brother learns there is a way from misery and pain. I am reborn each time a brother’s mind turns to the light in him and looks for me” (W-pI.RV-In.7:2-3). Since in the Course, Jesus is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, he can rightly state that he himself is reborn in each mind who chooses the Holy Spirit as the mind’s guide instead of the ego.

So the concept of ‘the rebirth of Christ in me’ might be succinctly summarized as follows, in Jesus’ own words from the text: “Let me be to you the symbol of the end of guilt, and look upon your brother as you would look on me. Forgive me all the sins you think the Son of God committed. And in the light of your forgiveness he will remember who he is, and forget what never was” (T-19.IV-B.6:1-3). Thus we follow in the example Jesus has given us as an elder brother, and in this sense his message (or line of thought) is ‘born again’. Seven chapters later, Jesus adds to that: “judge him [your brother] not, for you will hear no song of liberation for yourself, nor see what it is given him to witness to, that you may see it and rejoice with him. Make not his holiness a sacrifice to your belief in sin. You sacrifice your innocence with his, and die each time you see in him a sin deserving death. Yet every instant can you be reborn, and given life again. His holiness gives life to you, who cannot die because his sinlessness is known to God; and can no more be sacrificed by you than can the light in you be blotted out because he sees it not” (T-26.I.6:4-7:2; my italics).

So why not turn the Christmas ‘ritual’ into a ‘lesson of Love’ that Jesus would gladly have us all learn, namely to be merely a reminder and an assurance that we really would be happier choosing the advice of the Holy Spirit than choosing the advice of the ego, which is what most of us usually do, even at Christmas time. Let’s close with this happy summary of the true nature of the essence of you and me and all our brothers around us: “You who would make a sacrifice of life, and make your eyes and ears bear witness to the death of God and of His holy Son, think not that you have power to make of Them what God willed not They be. In Heaven, God’s Son is not imprisoned in a body, nor is sacrificed in solitude to sin. And as he is in Heaven, so must he be eternally and everywhere. He is the same forever. Born again each instant, untouched by time, and far beyond the reach of any sacrifice of life or death. For neither did he make, and only one was given him by One Who knows His gifts can never suffer sacrifice and loss (T-26.I.7:3-8). Happy rebirthing!

— Jan-Willem van Aalst, December 2022



The useful message of symptoms

It’s a well-known public secret that most medicine does not really cure in and of itself; it merely supports the self-healing process (salutogenesis) of the body. This self-healing process can also be stimulated through mind training. In the past decade, many stories have reached me of remarkable physical healings. Almost all of them involved the invitation of love. These are not stories they just heard from others; they are stories of their own experiences. More than a few of these, for example, relate to the remission of serious cancer after sending sharply focused love or light to the location of the symptoms, leaving physicians baffled. One of the most well-known examples of this “self-healing” is of course published by Brandon Bays in her book “The Healing journey”. And there are many other examples of how much more powerful our healing abilities are than we usually realize.

But what do we actually heal in such cases? When Jesus in the Psychotherapy pamphlet of A Course in Miracles calls on us to “Heal thyself”, he is certainly not primarily talking about the physical body. In fact, the Course repeatedly states that the body is merely an effect of the mind. Especially the Psychotherapy pamphlet is very clear on this: “All illness is mental illness. It is a judgment on the Son of God, and judgment is a mental activity. […] Once God’s Son is seen as guilty, illness becomes inevitable. It has been asked for and will be received.” (P-2.IV.1:1-2;2:1-2). So my physical symptoms reflect some form of unforgiveness in my mind, and it is there that the healing work needs to be done.

“Certain it is that all distress does not appear to be but unforgiveness. Yet that is the content underneath the form”, we read in (W-pI.193.4:1-2). It’s important here to be acutely aware of feelings of guilt or victimhood. With the former, I’m inclined to bash myself for obviously having made myself ill, while as a good Course student I should know better by now. In the latter case, I may protest that I do forgive, but my DNA is obviously stronger than my power to forgive. Both conclusions are ego-strategies that will not work, for both render my image of myself inadequate. They key here is to realize that, as again the Psychotherapy pamphlet says, my perceived self is a concept that I made up. (P-1.I.3:3). That is, I still attribute some reality to my body. That is the illness. “Sickness is insanity because all sickness is mental illness […] Illness is therefore a mistake and needs correction.” (P-2.IV.8:1;7:1).

In both physical healing as well as in psychotherapy, most people want to be healed without having to give up their cherished self-concept of an individual body that can be happy on its own. And yet the most oft-repeated lesson in A Course in Miracles teaches us that “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.” (W-pI.201-220). And so Workbook lesson 136 summarizes how we use sickness as a defense to having to recognize this truth: “Sickness is not an accident. Like all defenses, it is an insane device for self-deception. And like all the rest, its purpose is to hide reality, attack it, change it, render it inept, distort it, twist it, or reduce it to a little pile of unassembled parts. The aim of all defenses is to keep the truth from being whole. […] Sickness is a decision. It is not a thing that happens to you, quite unsought, which makes you weak and brings you suffering. It is a choice you make, a plan you lay, when for an instant truth arises in your own deluded mind, and all your world appears to totter and prepare to fall. Now are you sick, that truth may go away and threaten your establishments no more.” (w-pI.136.2:1-3;7).

So “heal thyself” means healing the mind — by accepting the truth of what I am, which is the same as what you and everybody else are: the one Son of God, created by Love as Love, albeit asleep in a dream of seeming separation. Accepting this truth means gently forgiving myself for still wanting to believe I am in a separated body in a threatening world. For true healing, I am to look at that “tiny, mad idea” of separation from oneness, and stop evaluating myself as the home of evil because of my cardinal sin of separation, however unconsciously I buried that thought. Healing means I once again choose to love my self as the Son of God. I once again choose to see all life as one. I once again choose to see this world as a classroom in which I happily learn the lessons of Love, offered me daily by the Holy Spirit.

In her book ‘Dying to be me’, Anita Moorjani shares with us her story of her near death experience, after a rapid terminal cancer process. Her spirit was told she had to go back since she still had a part to play in the dream world. Two of the most important lessons that she took back with her are: “Love yourself unconditionally” (since most of us, bottom line, despise ourselves) and “Live your life without fear”. So Jesus’ call to “Teach only Love, for that is what you are” (T-6.I.13:2) most certainly also means “Teach yourself only Love, since that is what you are.” Obviously, “self” refers to the self as spirit; however, since the body is merely a mirror of the mind, you should also love your body, in the sense that the body offers you countless opportunities for forgiveness, and so accept the Atonement.

To get back to the the power of mind training for supporting the salutogenesis process that I started this blog with, and all the remarkable stories of physical healing through the engulfment of the self in loving inner light: the effectiveness of such practice depends on what it is used for. If it is used solely to ‘cure’ the bodily symptoms, while the underlying unforgiveness is not dealt with, the effects (if any) will bring temporary alleviation at best. The ‘light of Love’ ought to reflect your choice to identify with your Identity as Love, and that nothing else exists. As always, ask the help of the Holy Spirit, the Voice for Love, Who will not hesitate to help wherever He is truly welcomed. Though as always, the Course dictum “To say these words is nothing. But to mean these words is everything” (W-pI.185.1:1-2) also holds here.

How do you know you succeeded? Jesus explains: “You will recognize you practiced well by this: The body should not feel at all. If you have been successful, there will be no sense of feeling ill or feeling well, of pain or pleasure. No response at all is in the mind to what the body does. Its usefulness remains, and nothing more.” (W-pI.136.17:2-3). So ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’, might be restated as: ‘A loving thought a day keeps the doctor away.’ Dear seemingly separated fragment of the Son of God, heal thy mind; return to Love and accept God’s healing assurance: “You are still My holy Son, forever innocent, forever loving and forever loved, as limitless as your Creator, and completely changeless and forever pure. Therefore awaken and return to Me. I am your Father and you are My Son.” (W-pII.12.5).

— Jan-Willem van Aalst, December 2022