The Most Commonly Asked Questions About
A Course in Miracles
Chapter 2: THE NATURE OF THE SEPARATION
Absolutely not! The Course teaches there is no death because spirit is immortal. The workbook lesson "I am as God created me" occurs three times and is also the central theme of a review section. This highlights the importance of the concept that only what God created (Christ) is eternal, and that this world of bodies -- having been made as the opposite to Heaven -- would have as its agenda to render immortality impossible. As is stated early in the text of the ego's inability to reach "eternalness":
The ego thinks it is an advantage not to commit itself to anything that is eternal, because the eternal must come from God. Eternalness is the one function the ego has tried to develop, but has systematically failed to achieve. The ego compromises with the issue of the eternal, just as it does with all issues touching on the real question in any way (T-4.V.6:1-3).In addition, bodies exist only in dreams -- the hallucinations we call life -- and therefore the length of this "life" has absolutely nothing to do with reality, let alone the eternal life of spirit.
One can thus see that the very term physical immortality is an oxymoron, a contradiction that reflects a misunderstanding of the theology of A Course in Miracles and obscures the crucial difference between reality and illusion. The concept is thus but one more ego ploy that many separated minds indulge in, thereby attempting to pervert the true meaning of the Course by making real the ego thought system and its world.
The devil can cite scripture for its own purpose, as Shakespeare commented in "The Merchant of Venice," and unfortunately the egos of students of A Course in Miracles can play the same trick. If students wish to support their own belief system that they (and their bodies) can be immortal, they can easily wrench statements from the Course out of context to support their desire. For example, under "The Attraction of Death," the third obstacle to peace in Chapter 19 of the text, there is the following statement under the subsection entitled "The Incorruptible Body":
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 .... Death, were it true, would be the final and complete disruption of communication, which is the ego's goal (T-19.IV-C.5:1-2; 6:5).And another sentence that has been taken out of its context to prove that the body can be immortal is from the manual for teachers, the section entitled "What Is Death?" We give just the single line here, and the total passage will be quoted below in the next question:
But what is born of God and still can die? (M-27.6:8)And so students will falsely conclude that since they -- as physical and psychological individuals -- were created by the eternal God as Himself, they can never die. This then becomes the rationale for affirming the validity of physical immortality. The mistake, obviously, lies in believing that God did, in fact, create them as individuals, and as bodies to boot. What is truly "born of God" is Christ, our Self that is only spirit, and it is that Self that is eternal and can never die. The false self that has a physical and psychological identity remains within the dream where there is only the illusion of birth, life, and death.
Some students, moreover, use the above lines as proof that Jesus is advocating physical immortality by stating that the body is incorruptible. However, they have failed to understand the context of the above passage (and subsection title) by eliminating the complete quotation. The reason that "the body no more dies than it can feel" and that death is not true, is that the body does not truly exist. Indeed, the body in truth does not die, but that is because it does not live. Only within the illusory dreams of the Son's sleeping mind does the body appear to be born, live, and die -- a sequence that the God of life itself knows nothing about. Furthermore, death of the body presupposes that there was first life; otherwise, the concept has no meaning. As Jesus also states in this passage:
It [the body] 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 (T-19.IV-C.5:3-6).What is nothing therefore does not (and cannot) live, and consequently it does not (and cannot) die either.
In the text we find an even more compelling passage that describes the body's absolute lack of being, similar to a lifeless puppet that merely carries out the wishes of its master, the puppeteer, the body's master, of course, being the mind:
Who punishes the body is insane. For here the little gap [separation] is seen, and yet it is not here. It has not judged itself, nor made itself to be what it is not. It does not seek to make of pain a joy and look for lasting pleasure in the dust. It does not tell you what its purpose is and cannot understand what it is for. It does not victimize, because it has no will, no preferences and no doubts. It does not wonder what it is. And so it has no need to be competitive. It can be victimized, but cannot feel itself as victim. It accepts no role, but does what it is told [by the mind), without attack.Once again, within the Son's dream of separation the body does indeed seem to be born, live, and die, but this is only in the world of illusion. For only in the reality of spirit is there truly life or being, and this has nothing to do with the physical existence which is of the ego. That is why early in the text Jesus contrasts the specificity of illusory existence with the abstract reality of being (T-4.VIl.4,5).
Therefore, we conclude that A Course in Miracles is unequivocal in its teaching that only spirit is immortal. To believe we can exist in any other state -- meaning the physical -- is to follow the ego's attempts to make the dream of separation a reality, in which our individual identity is secure, by having us believe in the illusion it calls life. And this attempt, naturally, is diametrically opposed to the ultimate purpose of the Course, which is to help us all awaken from the dream of individuality to our true Identity as Christ, the immortal and one Son of God.
Reproduced with the kind permission of Gloria and Kenneth
Wapnick and the Foundation for A Course in Miracles
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