Nevertheless, Course students sometimes misunderstand and think that physical healing is true healing. They believe that sickness is a sure sign of an unhealed mind. I’ve had students quote Lesson 136 to me when I’ve had the flu or a migraine, “Don’t you know that sickness is a defense against the truth?” they’d say. “If you really believed that, you wouldn’t be sick!” Whoa! That’s an example of using Jesus’ words as a weapon. By using the Course as a weapon, these folks are projecting their own fear and resistance against the truth onto me and my headache. We can even use similar words to attack and condemn ourselves when we’re not feeling well. We need to realize that such types of condemnation are weapons of guilt, no matter who is using them.
It comes down to this: symptoms are merely symptoms. That’s all they are. In themselves, they mean nothing. They’re neutral. We give them all the meaning that they have for us. When we give them the meaning of fear, we become afraid and we feel guilty (whether the symptoms are within ourselves or in another person). We’ve lost our peace and immediately we want to fix things out there in the world instead of where the real symptom is. Where is the real symptom? In our minds. The real symptom is the guilt that accuses us of separating from God. That’s the real sickness. The guilt is within, in our minds, and it’s always our minds that need correcting, fixing, and healing.
In the Introduction of the Psychotherapy supplement, Jesus says, “Since only the mind can be sick, only the mind can be healed. Only the mind is in need of healing” (P-I.1:2-3). In other words, sickness is conflict in the mind; sickness is the idea of guilt projected onto the body. Once we understand that, then the idea of “sickness as a defense against the truth” makes sense and is actually comforting and helpful. Sickness is the ego’s attempt to defend itself against Spirit (Truth) by focusing our attention on the body (form). If we are suffering symptoms of pain, then the body seems more real to us, right? Remember what I said about symptoms getting your attention? That’s their function. We turn our attention toward our symptoms (which, remember, are projections of the thought of guilt) and away from the Holy Spirit and the healing of our minds from the false guilt over a separation that never happened in reality. That distraction from true healing is the way that sickness is a defense against the truth. Sickness defends the ego against God by distracting us from Him. To put it another way, distraction equals defense.
Once we realize that sickness is nothing more than projected guilt, we’ll be better able to observe sickness and symptoms without judging them, condemning them, and giving them a gravity and reality that they don’t possess. We will observe and have no judgment of “this is good” or “this is bad, really, really bad.” The body is the illusory home of the illusory ego, and the ego keeps inflicting pain (and, by the way, pleasure also) to keep the whole “ego show” going. I like to say, “The body’s gonna do what the body’s gonna do.” That’s what the body does: it’s born, it dies, and in between there’s a whole lot of sickness and pain and a bunch of symptoms. The purpose of sickness is to focus our attention on our bodies because if we turned our focus to God, we would wake up to Who we really are. Then we would have no use for the ego. Obviously, the ego doesn’t want that to happen. Its solution is sickness and pain that drive us deeper and deeper into the belief that the body is real and its story of birth, sickness, and death is terribly, terribly real and serious.
Sickness is a decision made in the mind; it’s not something that the body or the brain (which is part of the body) does. Conversely, health is not something the body does, either. The body does nothing. The body is merely a thought that has been projected by the Mind, and that thought has never left the Mind. But listen up before you start accusing yourself of causing your current illness! We’re not talking about our personal minds. We’re talking about our One Mind as the Son of God. Kenneth Wapnick calls this unified mind the “decision maker.” It’s at this level where we make decisions about health, not at the level of the individual ego mind (the personal self we experience ourselves to be in this world).
What does this mean when we’re experiencing the symptoms of sickness? In reality, we are the One Holy Son of God and we can never be sick or die, but we still believe we are bodies; otherwise we wouldn’t appear to be here. So when we experience symptoms, we need to acknowledge them and not deny what we’re experiencing. Don’t deny the anxiety, worry, and feeling of being threatened and made unsafe by sickness. Denial doesn’t help. Don’t try to stuff down your feelings by repeating, “I am not a body. I am not a body. I am not a body!” I have news for you: if we’re experiencing sickness, it’s probably a sign that we really do believe that we are bodies! And that’s OK. Let’s not deceive ourselves that we are perfect Course students when we’re not. Let’s be honest, like Jesus asks us to be. We are where we are. So when we’re experiencing symptoms, we need to bring our disturbed, distressed, and even despairing feelings to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to heal our minds.
Originally posted March 2015