Part 1 Undoing the Way We See Things Now
LESSON 136 Sickness is a Defense Against the Truth
- No one can heal unless he understands what purpose sickness seems to serve. For then he understands as well its purpose has no meaning. Being causeless and without a meaningful intent of any kind, it cannot be at all. When this is seen, healing is automatic. It dispels this meaningless illusion by the same approach that carries all of them to truth, and merely leaves them there to disappear.
- 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. The parts are seen as if each one were whole within itself.
- Defenses are not unintentional. Nor are they made without awareness. They are secret, magic wands you wave when truth appears to threaten what you would believe. They seem to be unconscious but because of the rapidity with which you choose to use them. In the second, even less, in which the choice is made, you recognize exactly what you would attempt to do, and then proceed to think that it is done.
- Who but yourself evaluates a threat, decides escape is necessary, and sets up a series of defenses to reduce the threat that has been judged as real? All this cannot be done unconsciously. But afterwards, your plan requires that you must forget you made it, so it seems to be external to your own intent; a happening beyond your state of mind, an outcome with a real effect on you, instead of one effected by yourself.
- It is this quick forgetting of the parts you play and making your “reality” that makes defenses seem to be beyond your own control. But what you have forgot can be remembered, given willingness to reconsider the decision which is doubly shielded by oblivion. Your not remembering is but the sign that this decision still remains in force, as far as your desires are concerned. Mistake not this for a fact. Defenses must make facts unrecognizable. They aim at doing this, and it is this they do.
- Every defense takes fragments of the whole, assembles them without regard to all their true relationships, and thus constructs illusions of a whole that is not there. It is this process that imposes threat, and not whatever outcome may result. When parts are wrested from the whole and seen as separate and wholes within themselves, they become symbols standing for attack upon the whole; successful in effect, and never to be seen as whole again. And yet you have forgotten that they stand but for your own decision of what should be real, to take the place of what is real.
- 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.
- How do you think that sickness can succeed in shielding you from truth? Because it proves the body is not separate from you, and so you must be separate from the truth. You suffer pain because the body does, and in this pain are you made one with it. Thus is your “true” identity preserved, and the strange, haunting thought that you might be something beyond this little pile of dust silenced and still. For see, this dust can make you suffer, twist your limbs, and stop your heart, commanding you to die and cease to be.
- Thus is a body stronger than the truth, which asks you live, but cannot overcome your choice to die. And so the body is more powerful than everlasting life, Heaven more frail than hell, and God’s decision for the salvation of His Son opposed by a decision stronger than His Will. His Son is dust, the Father incomplete, and chaos sits in triumph on His throne.
- Such is your planning for your own defense. And you believe that Heaven quails before such mad attacks as these, with God made blind by your illusions, truth turned into lies, and all the universe made slave to laws which your defenses would impose upon it. Yet who believes illusions but the one who made them up? Who else can see them and react to them as if they were the truth?
- God knows not of your plans to change His Will. The universe remains unheeding of the laws by which you thought to govern it. And Heaven has not bowed to hell, nor life to death. You can but choose to think you die, or suffer sickness, or distort the truth in any way. What is created is apart from all of this. Defenses are plans to defeat what cannot be attacked. What is unalterable cannot change. And what is wholly sinless cannot sin.
- Such is the simple truth. It does not make appeal to might nor triumph. It does not command obedience, nor seek to prove how pitiful and futile your attempts to plan defenses that would alter it. Truth merely wants to give you happiness, for such its purpose is. Perhaps it sighs a little when you throw away its gifts, and yet it knows, with perfect certainty, that what God wills for you must be received.
- It is this fact that demonstrates that time is an illusion. For time lets you think what God has given you is not the truth right now, as it must be. The Thoughts of God are quite apart from time. For time is but another meaningless defense you made against the truth. Yet what He wills is here, and you remain as He created you.
- Truth has a power far beyond defense, for no illusions can remain where truth has been allowed to enter. And it comes to any mind that would lay down its arms and cease to play with folly. It is found at any time; today if you will choose to practice giving welcome to the truth.
- This is our aim today. And we will give a quarter of an hour twice to ask the truth to come to us and set us free. And truth will come, for it has never been apart from us. It merely waits for just this invitation which we give today. We introduce it with a healing prayer, to help us rise above defensiveness, and let truth be as it has always been: Sickness is a defense against the truth. I will accept the truth of what I am, and let my mind be wholly healed today.
- Healing will flash across your open mind, as peace and truth arise to take the place of war and vain imaginings. There will be no dark corners sickness can conceal and keep defended from the light of truth. There will be no dim figures from your dreams, nor their obscure and meaningless pursuits with double purposes insanely sought, remaining in your mind. It will be healed of all the sickly wishes that it tried to authorize the body to obey.
- Now is the body healed because the source of sickness has been opened to relief. And 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 body does. Its usefulness remains and nothing more.
- Perhaps you do not realize that this removes the limits you had placed upon the body by the purposes you gave to it. As these are laid aside, the strength the body has will always be enough to serve all truly useful purposes. The body’s health is fully guaranteed, because it is not limited by time, by weather, or fatigue, by food and drink, or any laws you made it serve before. You need do nothing now to make it well, for sickness has become impossible.
- Yet this protection needs to be preserved by careful watching. If you let your mind harbor attack thoughts, yield to judgment, or make plans against uncertainties to come, you have again misplaced yourself, and made a bodily identity which will attack the body, for the mind is sick.
- Give instant remedy, should this occur, by not allowing your defensiveness to hurt you longer. Do not be confused about what must be healed but tell yourself: I have forgotten what I really am, for I mistook my body for myself. Sickness is a defense against the truth. But I am not a body. And my mind cannot attack. So I cannot be sick.
Personal Notes and Application: What purpose does sickness seem to serve? Jesus tells us today that healing is a natural outcome of realizing that sickness has no meaning and no cause. It is simply a matter of not accepting the truth. It is a defense against the truth. When we choose sickness we choose to see ourselves as separate from spirit, as separate from the mind of God.
Who among us would choose sickness? I hate being sick. I have been struggling recently with some health issues and nothing can convince me that I would choose illness over wellness. I do not care what the Course says, I know that I would never choose to be sick in any way, shape, or form. I am a big baby when it comes to being sick. The least little bit of pain or discomfort, I am ready to die. It is terrible to be bedridden, to not be able to pull one’s weight, to be a helpmate. I have a lot of ego resistance to the ideas of yesterday and today’s lesson, but I am going to do my best to understand and practice these ideas today. So many lessons have helped me in my return to God, surely this one will have something that I can hark in my efforts to be well.
Jesus emphatically states that yes, indeed we choose sickness, we actually decide to get sick, in order to escape the truth about ourselves. Then we forget that we made this decision in our efforts to believe that our sickness happened to us, that our illness is beyond our control. Jesus says do not make the mistake of believing in this self-fabrication.
Defenses are purposefully devised against wholeness. They are made from deconstructing the truth and taking misused parts and misaligned pieces and presenting this as truth. This is what we choose to believe instead of the truth. The wholeness of reality frightens us, gives us pause, makes the world we made appear to totter and prepare to fall. And so we shrink back from truth, accept the broken bits that would stand in its place, because we would rather be sick that truth may leave us be and threaten the lives we built upon lies no longer!
Sickness proves the body is not separate from us. We suffer pain when the body suffers pain, and we are never more at one with the body than when we are sick. When we choose sickness we choose to identify with this little pile of dust rather than our oneness with God.
When we plan for our own defense of the body, whether in sickness, in our attempts to make our bodies holy, or against the strange and unpredictable fates of the world, we tell ourselves that our bodies are more powerful than everlasting life, heaven can be beat by hell, and God’s plan for salvation opposed by a stronger decision than the one He has made. God’s Son is dirt, writhing in pain, seeped forever in separation, the Father is incomplete and does not get what He wants, and chaos sits in triumph on His throne. These deconstructions and fabrications are what our religions and holy books teach to us as truth. Enslavement to this dogma sickens our minds and bodies. It fills us with despair that our Father would make us frail, vulnerable, destined to rot and decay.
When we accept who and what we really are, refuse to shrink back from the truth, face the fact that this kingdom is not God’s Kingdom and we are not bodies but everlasting spirits, we lay down our defenses against the truth. We put down the substitutes, the deconstructions, the fabrications. We loose ourselves from the dogma of despair and we lay claim to our worthiness, our Sonship, our true inheritance. We need no defense against the truth. We want to know the truth of what we are, and let our minds be wholly healed – today and always.
When we get past our body identification, we no longer are attached to it for its appearance, its stations, its excesses, and drives. Jesus promises that when we practice putting down our defenses against truth, we will not experience our bodies as anything but useful – nothing more. No pain, no pleasure – just there as a tool, an appliance, a means and not an end. As we lay aside our defenses, our self-imposed limitations, our attack thoughts, condemnation, and making our own way in the world, our bodies health is fully guaranteed – sickness becomes impossible. It will serve until we die, and we will not have to maintain it in any particular way.
This takes vigilance – for when our minds relapse into its own defense, we misplace our identity and our sickened, separated minds will attack our bodies.
We are given the key to our mental health and our physical health throughout our sojourn on earth. We are given an instant remedy to all that would take us off the path and sicken our minds and bodies. But we must stay on our toes and disallow any kind of defensiveness to hurt us. It is important that we not confuse this issue and think that we have caught a disease from another person, that our childhood trauma is causing our illness, or that an accident or natural disaster took away our health. Instead we take full and immediate responsibility for all that comes our way, and we say:
I have forgotten what I really am, for I mistook my body for myself. Sickness is a defense against truth. But I am not a body. And my mind cannot attack. So I can not be sick.
 A Course in Miracles. Workbook for Students. Lesson 136 Sickness is a defense…Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992). pp. 257-260.
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