More on A Different Approach to the Body

Last week’s article, “A Different Approach to the Body”, resulted in a wave of comments and questions at my blogsite and in my email. The central point of the article was to give an example of how one should be led from within rather than from a teaching in the world. However, the comments and questions I received were largely about the example rather than the central idea. Here I will attempt to clear up some points that seemed to confuse some students:

First, I did not mean to imply that the different approach to the body to which I was led by the Holy Spirit (the awareness of Truth within me) was wholly out of line with what A Course in Miracles teaches. Some sent me quotes from ACIM that were in line with what I teach. However, if I stopped with those passages from ACIM I’d be disregarding significant portions of what else ACIM teaches. So, yes, much of what I teach about the body is in line with ACIM. But I’ve also been led away from its core teachings about the body. ACIM puts a lot of emphasis on how the mind causes illnesses in and is the source of healing the body. My awareness of Truth (Holy Spirit) has led me to see form as all one illusion and to disregard it as a whole. This includes the level of mind that makes decisions about the body’s condition.

Second, this part of my article confused many. They could not see the distinction I was making:

“For example I would read in ACIM that illness in the body is caused by my identification with the body. In my guilt I would feel fearful when I read this. But later when I would think of those passages the Holy Spirit in my mind would explain that I experienced illness because of my identification with the body. This, of course, makes perfect sense. I would not experience illness otherwise.”

Here’s the distinction: ACIM says that illness in the body is caused by one’s identification with the body. If one withdraws their identification from the body, the body will be healed:

“The idea of separation produced the body and remains connected to it, making it sick because of the mind’s identification with it.” (T-19.I.7)

“The body, valueless and hardly worth the least defense, need merely be perceived as quite apart from you, and it becomes a healthy, serviceable instrument through which the mind can operate until its usefulness is over.” (W-135.8)

What I have learned from the Holy Spirit is that like all form, the body is limited, changeable, and open to manifestations of dysfunction in many forms. This is so because the experience of form is the opposite of eternally perfect, limitless, formless Truth. Medicines, treatments, etc. for the body are available at the level of the body (form). I only experience illness when I identify with an ill body. However, as mind I can detach from the experience of the body, whatever its condition, and watch it in the recognition that it is not real and is a passing experience.

So, to sum up: ACIM teaches that illness in a body is caused by the mind that perceives itself in that body. It teaches that one only has to choose to not be ill and they will not experience illness or a manifest illness will disappear.

What I have been taught is that illness in the body is the result of causes (genes, environment, attitudes, behavior, lifestyle choices, energy) at the level of form. Some causes (attitudes, behavior, choices, energy) can change if one changes them and this may result in illness not manifesting, being mitigated, and perhaps healing. One’s willingness to have the body be well results in their becoming aware of the appropriate medicines, treatments, diets, etc. at the level of form.

The significant distinction here is that ACIM teaches that the body can be perfected by one withdrawing their identification from it. Where I have been led is to see that one can withdraw their identification from the body and experience detachment from its conditions. But the body continues on as inherently limited, occasionally or chronically dysfunctional, deteriorating form that eventually ceases to be animated (“alive”) and decays if it is not preserved (mummified, etc.) or destroyed.

Why is this distinction important? Because ACIM’s way kept me focused on the body’s condition as an indicator of my state of mind. The way I have been led has allowed me to be at peace no matter the condition of the body. I accept that the experience of form will never be perfect. This sets me free to detach from it and to focus on mind instead of the body. The result has been for my awareness of Truth and peace to be my focus as the body falls into the background of my experience.

For me, anyway, ACIM’s way blurred the line between Truth and illusion; between Formless Mind and form-bound thinking. The way I have been led has made the distinction between Truth and illusion clear to me. Any concern with form is limiting.

Third, ACIM does not say that the goal is to heal your mind to heal the body. (Again, I have culled what ACIM says about the body and healing at my website, Nor was I suggesting that this is what ACIM teaches. What it does teach is a result of health for the body as the mind is healed. In other words, physical healing is not the goal for healing the mind, but is a side effect. Where I have been led is to attend to mind and let the self (body, personality) be as it is without judging it. This is how I detach from it. And I have experienced a mind growing in its awareness of Truth and peace while the body continues on with many of the typical issues of middle age. My experience seems to be in line with other spiritual teachers, mentioned by some readers, who no longer identified with a self and yet whose bodies died of illness. (I do not yet claim to not identify with a self at all. But it is harder to find).

Having written all of this, I hope readers will eventually come to realize that we are talking about nothing. Attend to the body and it will grow in your awareness. So will guilt and a feeling of vulnerability and fear. Attend to Truth and It will grow in your awareness. So will the awareness that you are whole and perfect in Truth and that the body is nothing.


Manu said…
Liz, your follow up of the difference between what ACIM says and what the Holy Spirit led you to understand is simply this: The Holy Spirit has led you to an understanding which is exactly what ACIM says. Except previously you had misunderstood what ACIM says ! Truth is ultimately not different for anyone. That's why it is the Truth.
ACIM Mentor said…
Manu, I hope this was a joke because it's a good one. Otherwise I used a lot of words to make the distinction clear and failed!
You're right the Truth is not different for everyone. But I wasn't writing about Truth.
Anonymous said…
The more we think and worry about the body, the more chances that the body will fall ill. It is like in Chinese medicine - where your attention goes, there your energy (Qi) goes. If you are afraid of cancer and do various tests regularly out of fear, you will finally find that cancer. As Liz wrote, it makes sense to attend to the mind and let the body as it is. This will automatically improve the body, because if the mind is at peace, the body will diminish the production of stress hormones (most people have excess production of these hormones), the whole hormonal level will normalise, many vital functions of the body will improve as a result of this, and the body will be much healthier. The less we think about the body, the better for it. Don't worry about the body, be happy!
Anonymous said…
ACIM speaks about the fear of healing, and many people are afraid even of physical healing, not mentioning the healing of mind. I had patients who started taking homeopathic medicines, improved rapidly, and suddenly stopped with the treatment, even though they could improve even more and get rid of their diseases. All the physical factors (genes, environment, food, etc) are only predispositions which create weak spots in the body, and these weak spots turn into real diseases when mental/emotional problems arise, stress hormones are produced uncontrollably, vital functions of the body are weakened, immunity goes down. Mind is always the decisive factor in the experience of sickness (the personal mind, that is). And this mind is illusion, as is the body, and all this must be released, as it really is not so important.
will said…
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will said…
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will said…
Most everything that is written in the comment section is the personal mind with a name attached. It's something I'm just beginning to learn and use in the world.
Anonymous said…
Will, certainly it is the personal mind which functions in the world and writes comments to the blog. We need to know this and keep it in mind. Practicing 4 habits, releasing guilt and doing other things from ACIM can help to make the personal mind neutral, harmless and helpful. What else do we need from the personal mind?
Anonymous said…
This subject has been “right in my face” uh, mind and well, of course, I asked for it, seeking to end my confusion and to heal negative self judgment of my body. Two days ago as I was sharing my struggles with another, I had a beautiful experience of oneness when in an holy instant I was shown the Love that I am reflected back to me “shared interests” through this other. This experience resulted in joy that I carried through into the next day. Heck, getting a parking ticket could not take this peace away while I looked at the fine and noticed the comment on the ticket, “picture taken of vehicle” and I laughed as I visualized my dog Papo, who was sitting in the front seat, smiling at the officer as the photo was taken and I laughed. So later in the day I checked my emails and one was from the other I experienced oneness with and she was inviting me to join her in an eight week on-line class called Duality which is about healing the energy blocks. I initially recognized the judgment of the word duality but thought I would at least listen to the introduction to the class before saying yes or no. After, I once again experienced a conflicted mind and asked for help from the Holy Spirit and then this morning I was led to a book by Ken and the first sentence I read was “Salvation exists only in the decision making mind and so to seek for it in the mindless and dualistic world of bodies will inevitably lead to frustration and illusory thoughts of healing.” Then I realized that the confusion and uncertainty about this invite was the ego's distraction of retreat from the advancement I made and that this mind saying no thank you to the class, is saying no to the ego. It is not that this class cannot be helpful in form, but with discernment, I understand this is not where I am being led.

Then I am reassured in Lesson 155 “I will step back and let Him lead the way.” and cautioned, “9. Walk safely now, yet carefully, because this path is new to you.”
will said…
I'm sorry Michael I didn't realize there were two M's on the comment section this week.
will said…
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will said…
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will said…
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Anonymous said…
Thank you , Holy Spirit ��
Christine said…
We all need a "smiling Papo" from time to time! I thought of your comment last week, Annonymous, about how your dear dog, Papo, helped you get through some depression, etc., and then it came to me that what we feel when a dog shows such love, and seems to a lot of us to be such a symbol of, if we can transpose this idea/feeling to everything and everyone seemingly out there in the world - not just to dogs, then we are in Heaven..."forgetting the whole thing", as I read in something Mary Baker Eddy had written, including the body!
Anonymous said…
Acceptance of love flows once the barriers are removed. It is the Papo's of our dream that reflect the Love that we are as one in Heaven and it is with the healing of our unworthiness that we finally receive it with a knowing, I Am Love. My late husband was a Papo but it wasn't until ACIM that I learned how to remove the barriers to his love. That Love was just in waiting, waiting for my acceptance. Jose has been gone in form for 4 years but the love remains. It was 3 days ago when the light dawned in my mind and I finally saw that Love he knew I was all along. I mention time, but there is no time in Truth. Right now, you are Love.
Frank C said…
Liz... thank you so much for this further explanation of this 'controversial' subject... this article definitely brought more clarity to it, at least for me. However, there is one area that keeps bouncing around in my head, and I'd like your take on it:

In ACIM, it is pretty clear that it says it is OK to use "magic" (which I assume is ANY "cure" found in the realm of form) to heal your body... and you've already stated that these "causes" (of both illness and healing) include: genes, environment, attitudes, behavior, lifestyle choices, energy. So, my question is, wouldn't the use of "energy healing" (reiki, chakra, chi, etc.) and/or things like affirmations, visualizations, prayer, etc. simply be part of the use of "magic within form", with the distinction that the "personal thought system" (ego) was being called on. Anyone using this type of "healing modality" could still use these "natural remedies" (as an alternative to other magical "pills") and see them as NOT a part of the more desired healing of the MIND (through the Atonement/forgiveness)and therefore remain DETACHED from the outcome while still seeking to make the body more comfortable to live in while participating in the "dream"?

It seems to me that it is pretty much a scientific fact that the "mind" contributes to healing the body, and if you are going to say it is OK to go to the doctor, take pills, watch your diet, etc. to cure an illness in the body, then the use of mind (within the dream) should be considered at least as valid and as practical as the "normal" medical practices... thoughts??
I thought what you posted made complete sense. It has to come down to the body being an illusion in the sense of not real, not truth. This is obvious because it does not last, decays, etc. and what is real does not. Nonetheless, I deal with pain daily and it is a struggle because the body seems completely real, in fact the dominant experience. I think there is more to learn here, for me at least. I appreciate what you shared. It helps to think about this more, ponder it, because it is such an important part of our experience.
— Richard
Jeremy said…
Liz, I do not have the patience to read all the other comments today, but I do want to simply say that I do indeed see the distinction you are making and it is, to my understanding, a completely valid and supremely useful one.

And, once again let me say that reading of your statement of this distinction is very helpful for me. Thank you!!
ACIM Mentor said…
Frank C: Yes, I implied this in my article when I said that if you change your attitudes, behavior, choices and energy - all which begin with a change of mind - you can affect the body. Also, I did not mean to imply that ACIM says to NOT change the mind to change the body. I only said that the healing of the mind that ACIM prescribes is for peace not for healing the body. The body being healed is a side-effect of, not the purpose for, healing your mind.
Christine said…
Liz, I have been thinking that "the body being healed is a side effect, not the purpose for, healing your mind"... is like going to a movie for the purpose of hearing the soundtrack.We don't do that. The music is incidental, that is why it is in the background, it is a side effect of the movie we're watching - coincidental, happens naturally.
Hal Seeley said…
Having been in the possession of a broken body for decades now, this subject is near and dear to my heart. I had to re-read Liz's first post before I finally understood what she was saying and it makes perfect sense. But I venture to say that either way may be appropriate because we are all different and the path to awakening is unique for us all. For me, I have no problem seeing a broken body as result of a sick mind because I no longer attache guilt to having a sick mind. I recognize I harbor guilt as guilt=fear=sickness=guilt, and the cycle continues. Just the other day I was journaling about my guilt and I was watching the emotion of guilt in my body and I realized the body is a communication device, a transmitter of sorts of one's thoughts. It is one way to observe your thoughts transformed to form. I then began to see guilt like I never saw it before and it suddenly lost its secretiveness, its ability to hide in the shadows of my mind and something I no longer had to run from. It was at that point I was able to forgive guilt as something that has power over my True mind for I had found a way to observe it first hand. It no longer has that ability to perform in secret and the result of its work to become a sucker punch to my jaw.

As for Liz's assertion that one is able to be sick and pretty much ignore it and focus on the Truth - it is possible of course but it takes a very powerful mind. I read somewhere that some spies and prisoners of war were able to transcend torture by somehow disconnecting from the body certainly has a ring of truth, but again it takes an incredible strength of mind to be able to do this. I have lived with a dysfunctional body for over twenty years now and given it involves eating I am faced with the issue multiple times during the day. I finally realized my focus was in the wrong place and the result was extreme guilt for not being able to heal my mind and thus heal the body. I have finally let go the focus on the body even though I still accept that the body's condition is a result of the condition of the mind, but my focus is now seeking the Truth while watching the body's emotions expose my thoughts that were forever hidden from me before.

Thank you Liz, you are such a wonderful Teacher of God.
ACIM Mentor said…
That's a good way to put it, Christine.
Boyd Sharp said…
I am trying to wrap my spirit around this concept as it seems to hold much truth. It seems to resonate with my spirit, but as it is a new thought (truth) I need to let it simmer so that it can come to a boil, whereby it becomes clearer to me. Thank you.
nicci said…
thank you liz. n
Anonymous said…
Great articles on the body! One of my first encounters with how powerful the personal mind is, came when I was just a young child, many years ago (I suppose before sonograms were available). My sister-in-law wanted another baby so badly that she experienced a "false pregnancy," not once, but twice. The second time she was almost nine months gone before they realized what it was (or wasn't). It was very confusing for me and the family. Furthermore, she had been brought up in a household where her father preached the "fire and brimstone" of the Bible, the end times coming soon, etc., and to all her life she has been fraught with illness of every kind you can imagine, something I attribute to the fear and guilt engrained within her.

When I experience pain, I tell myself that the pain is happening, but it isn't happening to "Me." It works sometimes . . .
hannahlily said…
very clarifying, awesome, much appreciated.

i love this... "The central point of the article was to give an example of how one should be led from within rather than from a teaching in the world."

i enjoyed what liz said around the discrepancies in ACIMs teachings. i believe they are there purposefully, though i could be wrong of course ;)

ACIM (usually i am sure, though maybe some come to it having learned much of it already!) has the seemingly gargantuan purpose of meeting us more or less fully immersed in mistaken identity with the world and ourselves in it as bodies which are real. and it speaks to us in ways that introduce truth gently, because if it gave us purely the simple truth we would run away as fast as we could, our egos defences fully up in some form or another, away from what we see as our sure demise!

as we go along studying the course, the discrepancies of some of its teachings containing 'more individual identification' and those containing 'more true identification' become apparent. as we go along we are strengthening our identification with truth, which lessens the fear of letting go of bodily identification. as the course says, it is a beginning, not and end. its main purpose is to help us get in touch with the teacher of truth within us, to trust that. the teacher of truth will then sort out the parts of acim that were speaking to the fully body identified from the parts that were leading away from that identification. its very helpful when seen from that point, to have these obviously incongruent teachings! they lead us gently from what seems loving to what really is loving, though they are sure confusing when you first notice them!

"The central point of the article was to give an example of how one should be led from within rather than from a teaching in the world." im laughing at how threatened i felt by my interpretation of that article.. now im grateful for the sense of threat cos i used it to remember that truth cannot be threatened!

a funny (to myself at any rate ;) ) aside.. when liz posted that first article, i was in the middle of the longest lasting and most intense illness ive ever experienced. and it was one of the most joyful times in my life, the last two weeks of it at any rate! because i was practising the awareness that being ill did not mean i was a victim, either of forces from outside or from thoughts within me, and this led to my experiencing peace which came from knowledge that what my body was experiencing had no power to effect the truth in any way, or to even affect my awareness of truth unless i actually WANTED to feel like a victim, or like i was being punished for something!! now to just remember that i can choose that kind of peace without the prompting of illness!

acim i feel is, in the end, kinda.. setting us free from itself as another part of the external world!
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