“Death is a thought that takes on many forms, often unrecognized. It may appear as sadness, fear, anxiety or doubt; as anger, faithlessness and lack of trust; concern for bodies, envy, and all forms in which the wish to be as you are not may come to tempt you....” Workbook page 309, Lesson 163.
If we remember that the world is an illusion and the ego and the body don’t really exist, then it is easy to see the truth in this lesson. “There is no death.” We are eternal spirit and spirit cannot die. We started off as a thought in the Mind of God and the Course tells us that, “ideas leave not their source”; so we still remain in the Mind of God, and the separation never occurred.
Within the illusion, death does seem very real. In fact, the only certain thing about life on earth is that all things born will, sooner or later, die. But ACIM repeatedly stresses that there is no death—only eternal life. Our bodies appear to die within the illusion but we are not our bodies because we remain as we were when God created us. Lesson 167 states: “There is one life, and that I share with God.” Therefore, if we are a part of God, we must have been given the gift of eternal life because God is life—with no beginning and no end.
“The idea of the death of God is so preposterous that even the insane have difficulty in believing it. For it implies that God was once alive and somehow perished; killed, apparently, by those who did not want Him to survive...” Workbook, p. 310. The ego believes that it vanquished God at the time of the separation from Heaven, when the split mind and, through projection, created the body, the home of the ego. It believes that our bodies must die to pay for this sin. Death symbolises the fear of God and the ego believes it deserves to be punished by God for the (illusory) separation; and death is the ultimate punishment. Only the separation never happened and there is no death!
“Death is the central dream from which all illusions stem. Is it not madness to think of life as being born, aging, losing vitality, and dying in the end?...It is the one fixed, unchangeable belief of the world that all things in it are born only to die. This is regarded as the ‘way of nature,’ not to be raised to question....And no one asks if a benign Creator could will this.” Manual, p. 66.
God is a God of Love, so how could there be death? The anticipation of death, whether our own or that of a loved one, arouses great fear in us. And when death finally does come, it brings so much grief in its wake, as we mourn for and long for our departed loved one. God would not do that do us. He is not cruel and He does not punish us for we are part of Him and part of Christ, and He loves us. As we read in Lesson 35: “My mind is part of God’s. I am very holy.” And Lesson 50 states: “I am sustained by the love of God.”
It is only because we are wholly identified with our bodies that we fear death so much. That’s why we try our best to preserve the body, whether by applying cream to the skin, taking supplements, exercising or undergoing cosmetic surgery. The signs of ageing are to be avoided at all costs, because we are well aware that the ageing process is inevitably followed by death—but the death of what? Of an imaginary physical form. “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.” ACIM, Lesson 201. Repeating this lesson regularly is a good way to remember that we are eternal spirit.
We need to withdraw our attention from our physical form, if possible. Yet it makes sense to look after the body, whilst we believe we are in it. When the body is in good working order one doesn’t think about it as much as when one is in pain or unwell. It is very difficult to ignore a nagging headache or an aching joint.
As the strength of the physical body begins to decline with age, it is advisable to focus more on the mind, and to use the mind to help us fulfil our spiritual goals. Middle and old age should really be a time of introspection—a time when we cultivate inner peace. It is a time to gradually turn away from the external world towards the world within, which is, in fact, the only world there is.
“...The body no more dies than it can feel. It does nothing. Of itself it is neither corruptible nor incorruptible. It is nothing. It is the result of a tiny, mad idea of corruption that can be corrected. For God has answered this insane idea with His Own...” ACIM, Text, p. 418. The tiny mad idea was the mind’s belief that it could separate from God and create the ego and the world of form. God’s answer to this was the Holy Spirit, Whom He sent into our world to lead us out of it. So what we have to do is to call upon the Holy Spirit frequently and ask Him to help us awaken from the dream and remember that we are still at Home with God. Some people are able to hear the Holy Spirit and receive guidance from Him either as a spoken voice or in writing. It is important to develop this channel of communication. Remember that the Holy Spirit is our Higher Self and our link with God. He dwells in us at all times but we have to silence the egoic mind in order to hear Him.
Jesus asks us to look past death and see the life beyond. He asks us to make the body holy by using it to serve God, as we can see from this uplifting passage: “The central lesson is always this; that what you use the body for it will become to you....Use it to bring the Word of God to those who have it not, and the body becomes holy. Because it is holy it cannot be sick, nor can it die. When its usefulness is done it is laid by, and that is all....God’s Voice will tell him when he has fulfilled his role, just as It tells him what his function is. He does not suffer either in going or remaining...” Manual, p. 32. There is no death and we do not suffer. There is only a dream of death which we can awaken from.
“There is no death. The Son of God is free.”
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