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A COURSE IN MIRACLES Chapter 19 The Attainment of Peace

IV.  The Obstacles of Peace

C. The Third Obstacle: The Attraction of Death

1. To you and your brother, in whose special relationship the Holy Spirit entered, it is given to release and be released from the dedication to death.  For it was offered you, and you accepted.  Yet you must learn still more about this strange devotion, for it contains the third obstacle that peace must flow across.  No one can die unless he chooses death.  What seems to be the fear of death is really its attraction.  Guilt, too, is feared and fearful.  Yet it could have no hold at all except on those who are attracted to it and seek it out.  And so, it is with death.  Made by the ego, its dark shadow falls across all living things, because the ego is the “enemy” of life. 

2. And yet a shadow cannot kill.  What is a shadow to the living?  They but walk past and it is gone.  But what of those whose dedication is not to live; the black-draped “sinners,” the ego’s mournful chorus, plodding so heavily away from life, dragging their chains and marching in the slow procession that honors their grim master, lord of death?  Touch any one of them with the gentle hands of forgiveness, and watch the chains fall away, along with yours.  See him throw aside the black robes he was wearing to his funeral and hear him laugh at death.  The sentence sin would lay upon him he can escape though your forgiveness.  This is no arrogance.  It is the Will of God.  What is impossible to you who chose His Will as yours?  What is death to you?  Your dedication is not to death, nor to its master.  When you accepted the Holy Spirit’s purpose in place of the ego’s you renounced death, exchanging it for life.  We know that an idea leaves not its source.  And death is the result of the thought we call the ego, as surely as life is the result of the Thought of God.

The Incorruptible Body

3. From the ego came sin and guilt and death, in opposition to life and innocence, and to the Will of God Himself.  Where can such opposition lie but in the sick minds of the insane, dedicated to madness and set against the peace of Heaven?  One thing is sure; God, Who created neither sin nor death, wills not that you be bound by them.  He knows of neither sin nor its results.  The shrouded figures in the funeral procession march not in honor of their Creator, Whose Will it is they live.  They are not following His Will; they are opposing it.

4. And what is the black-draped body they would bury?  A body which they dedicated to death, a symbol of corruption, a sacrifice to sin, offered to sin to feed upon and keep itself alive; a thing condemned, damned by its maker, and lamented by every mourner who looks upon it as himself.  You who have believed you have condemned the Son of God to this are arrogant.  But you who would release him are but honoring the Will of his Creator.  The arrogance of sin, the pride of guilt, the sepulcher of separation, all are part of your unrecognized dedication to death.  The glitter of guilt you laid upon the body would kill it.  For what the ego loves, it kills for its obedience.  But what obeys it not, it cannot kill.

5. You have another dedication that would keep the body incorruptible and perfect as long as it is useful for your holy purpose.  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; an Answer Which left Him not, and therefore brings the Creator to the awareness of every mind which heard His Answer and accepted it.

6. You who are dedicated to the incorruptible have been given through your acceptance, the power to release from corruption.  What better way to teach the first and fundamental principle in a course on miracles than by showing you the one that seems to be the hardest can be accomplished first?  The body can but serve your purpose.  As you look on it, so will it seem to be.  Death, were it true, would be the final and complete disruption of communication, which is the ego’s goal.

7. Those who fear death see not how often and how loudly they call to it, and bid it come to save them from communication.  For death is seen as safety, the great dark savior from the light of truth, the answer to the Answer, the silencer of the Voice That speaks for God.  Yet the retreat to death is not the end of conflict.  Only God’s Answer is its end.  The obstacle of your seeming love for death that peace must flow across seems to be very great.  For in it lie hidden all the ego’s secrets, all its strange devices for deception, all its sick ideas and weird imaginings.  Here is the final end of union, the triumph of the ego’s making over creation, the victory of lifelessness on Life Itself.

8. Under the dusty edge of its distorted world the ego would lay the Son of God, slain by its orders, proof in his decay that God Himself is powerless before the ego’s might, unable to protect the life that He created against the ego’s savage wish to kill.  My brother, child of our Father, this is a dream of death.  There is no funeral, no dark altars, no grim commandments nor twisted rituals of condemnation to which the body leads you.  Ask not release of it.  But free it from the merciless and unrelenting orders you laid upon it and forgive it what you ordered it to do.  In its exaltation you commanded it to die, for only death could conquer life.  And what but insanity could look upon the defeat of God and think it real?

9. The fear of death will go as its appeal is yielded to love’s real attraction.  The end of sin, which nestles quietly in the safety of your relationship, protected by your union with your brother, and ready to grow into a mighty force for God is very near.  The infancy of salvation is carefully guarded by love, preserved from every thought that would attack it, and quietly made ready to fulfill the mighty task for which it was given you.  Your newborn purpose is nursed by angels, cherished by the Holy Spirit and protected by God Himself.  It needs not your protection; it is yours.  For it is deathless and within it lies the end of death.

10. What danger can assail the wholly innocent?  What can attack the guiltless?  What fear can enter and disturb the peace of sinlessness?  What has been given you, even in its infancy, is in full communication with God and you.  In its tiny hands it holds, in perfect safety, every miracle you will perform, held out to you.  The miracle of life is ageless, born in time but nourished in eternity.  Behold this infant, to whom you gave a resting place by your forgiveness of your brother and see in it the Will of God.  Here is the baby of Bethlehem reborn.  And everyone who gives him shelter will follow him, not to the cross, but to the resurrection and the life.

11. When anything seems to you to be a source of fear, when any situation strikes you with terror and makes your body tremble and the cold sweat of fear comes over it, remember it is always for one reason; the ego has perceived it as a symbol of fear, a sign of sin and death.  Remember, then, that neither sign nor symbol should be confused with source, for they must stand for something other than themselves.  Their meaning cannot lie in them but must be sought in what they represent.  And they may thus mean everything or nothing, according to the truth or falsity of the idea which they reflect.  Confronted with such seeming uncertainty of meaning, judge it not.  Remember the holy presence of the One given to you to be the Source of Judgment.  Give it to Him to judge for you, and say:

Take this from me and look upon it, judging it for me.

Let me not see it as a sign of sin and death, nor use it for destruction.

Teach me how not to make of it an obstacle to peace, but let You use it for me, to facilitate its coming.[1] 

Within you and within me is our incorruptible body – we are as we were created – whole and holy, pure and guiltless.  Identify with that in each other and we live forever in a state of love, joy, and peace.  All that we do in the flesh body will reflect the reality of our true Being.   We will experience bliss, the smallest and most humble things we do together will be filled with joy and a deep and abiding sense of peace and love.  We have the beginning sense of eternity between us – you and me – the eternal Sonship that goes beyond all the limitations and violence of the ego.  Born in time, we are nurtured by the eternal.  Seeing beyond the body, we accept the bodies fallibility as only a means of forgiveness and correction.  We are freed from thoughts of sin and sacrifice and so we no longer have any attraction or fear of death.

Identify with our flesh bodies and we are incapable of escape from the attraction and fear of death.  For the ego designed the flesh body to slay the Sons of God; to steal the Creation of Love; to lay waste the Everlasting Kingdom.  We see this story in the ego’s religions which demand blood sacrifice, which calls to war and murder, promotes death and suffering.   But death of the body is but a dream of death which continues to enthrall and captivate us into serving its grim commandments, performing its twisted rituals of condemnation, attending its funerals, laying flowers on its headstones, and living in wonder of who will it take next.  This is what we call life in the body – a thin mask of the ego’s savage wish to slay the Sonship of God, to make God powerless, to steal the Creation of Love and make of it a hellish realm of contradictions to life.   When we are no longer afraid to examine this belief system, we see it as insane and not of God at all.

What is not of God has no reality.  It is an illusion; it is a false kingdom; it is a grandiose deception that would lift itself and oppose the reality of God.  Death is not God’s Will and therefore cannot be real.  To give up our attraction to it we must stop believing it and fearing it.   We live then as eternal Beings for that is what we are.  Our bodies serve us in time, but they are not us.  In other words, we do not forsake them, we do not pray to be released from them, we simply do not identify with them and thus free ourselves from the attraction to death.

Because we live in an illusion, our spiritual practice must be one of learning to trust in the Voice for God within.  We practice the holy instant.  Instead of fearing communion, we seek communion.  Rather than hiding our humanity from each other, we express our humanity to each other in trust and in mercy and in forgiveness.  No longer comparing and competing, our special relationship is now holy – wholly devoted to healing and to salvation. 

Our spiritual practice is in its infancy.  We must nurture our practice just as we would a newborn baby.  We must take care of it and protect it.  The world is not kind to the divine in us!  The ego’s aim is to kill the Son of God, but this is impossible for we cannot die.  Jesus asks us to believe in Him.  To give Him shelter.  To follow Him, not to the cross but to resurrection and life. 

As you can see, this is not an arrogant practice.  Accepting our Sonship is humbling for we must admit we are lost in a mad dream of death.  Accepting our Sonship fulfills every yearning and longing we have ever had for truth, for meaning, for our eternal purpose.  We find our place in Sonship and when we find our place everybody is helped to find their place – for we are one in Spirit and in truth.  In Spirit, I cannot fear death for it does not exist in Spirit.  In Spirit, I cannot wish death upon you for in Spirit you are my beloved Self even as I am yours.  There is nothing between us. 

In the last paragraph Jesus asks us to accept our position in time with grace and faith in the holy presence within us.  We are not supposed to try to get out of it.  We are not supposed to pray for the Rapture or ask to be pulled up and out so that everybody else can suffer the consequences of separation.  We are to take all thoughts of fear, of sin and shame, all situations and events and persons to the Voice for God within us.  Do not judge any of it.  Do not go around assuming we have any right to say who is saved and who is not.  Holy Spirit is the judge of all that would make us tremble, give us pause, or confuse us in any way.  Holy Spirit gives us the vision of Christ so that we do not see sin and death or use anything or anybody for destruction.  Holy Spirit teaches us to do away with every obstacle we have made to peace.  As we come to our daily devotional practice, Holy Spirit teaches us how to use every circumstance for peace thus making the path for peace easy and inviting. 

We nurture the infant Christ within us by finding a quiet spot and practicing the presence of the holy Son.  When we grow in Christ all our attraction to death, to hell, to damnation goes away.  We are unwilling to see one tiny part of Creation slain or suffer.  We accept the reality of truth and recognize all else as illusion.    


[1] A Course in Miracles. Chapter 19. The attainment of peace. IV The obstacles to peace C. The third obstacle: the attraction of death. i. The incorruptible body. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).

For daily 2021 Workbook lessons visit www.i-choose-love.com courtesy of Linda R.

Audio credit: www.eckiefriar.com

Filed under: ACIM, Teaching and Learning

About the Author

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Coming up on sixty, my love for God, home and hearth, my husband and family fueled my decision to devote the rest of my life only to pursuits which brought love, joy, peace, and purpose. I am a writer, seeker, student, and teacher with experience professional and otherwise from waitressing to teaching the English language in China, Taiwan, and Singapore. I hold a BA in Psychology from Bloomsburg University, which took nearly 30 years to attain while I squeezed courses in between raising my children, journaling, relationships, work, and an assortment of escapades, some of which I would rather forget! An ongoing passion for reading, writing, adventure, food, and fun, eventually led me to the love of my life, James, whom I met in 1996 and married in 1997. Our life together has been an exciting journey of work and travel, spiritual awakening, and domestic bliss ever since. Although we have experienced the tragic loss of family members and friends through death and estrangement, we have managed to turn our special relationship into a holy one by the grace of God and an acute and growing awareness of “there must be a better way!” In 2006, I published my first novel, Luella’s Calling, and am currently working on my second, Grover Good and the Stone Chateau. From 2013 through 2018, I worked as a Prevention Education Specialist for Transitions, a local domestic violence sexual abuse victim’s service agency. My work there, fueled by a lifelong enthusiasm for teaching, led me to obtain an MS in Education from Scranton University. In 2018, I resigned to accompany James on his work travels while focusing on my calling to study and teach A Course in Miracles. To that end, I dedicate the rest of my days to writing, sharing, and teaching the message of salvation found within the Course pages. Thank you for your interest in this blog. As I do not respond to comments on the posts, if you care to contact me, please email me at eckief@yahoo.com.

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