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10.1 First let us consider what it is the body would use. Although you feel slave to it and under the weight of its control, who is the you it would control? How can it make you do other than you choose to do? Learn this lesson well, for herein lies the cure to all disease and the hope of all healing. While the body seems to tell you what you feel and bid you act in accordance with its feelings, how can this be so? The body by itself is neutral. But as long as you attribute the body with bringing you pleasure, the body will bring you pain as well. You cannot choose one without the other, because the choice is the same. The body is a tool made for your use in maintaining the illusion of your separation. That it has seeming power can only be because you think you put your power there. If this were true, much power indeed would it wield. But what you have made cannot be invested with the power of creation without your joining with it. How, you think, could you be more linked with anything than you are with your own body? If you are not even joined with this presence that you call your home, how can you be expected to join with others?
10.2 Now we must return to the concept of relationship, for the thought of bodies joined in union closer than the union that you feel with the body you call your own is indeed ridiculous. Joining happens in relationship, not in physical form. Joining is not the obliteration of one thing to make another—joining makes each one whole, and in this wholeness one with all. This union has never really ceased to be, but as long as you do not realize that it exists its benefits are unavailable to you. As much as I would like it to be so, my telling you the truth of your existence is not enough of itself to make you aware of what you have for so long hidden from yourself. I can merely tell you where to look, and save you countless years of seeking where the truth is not, if you will but seek where I bid you find.
10.3 There are aspects of what I am telling you that you readily embrace and others that you do not understand and would wait awhile before implementing. What you truly do not understand is wholeness. All things exist in wholeness, including the thought system that you made to protect the illusion you hold so dear. Your thought system is completely alien to the truth, but completely consistent as a system. You cannot abandon one tenet and retain another because by retaining part you retain all. This will lead to seeming failure to learn what I would have you learn. What God would have me teach, you cannot fail to learn, but neither can you learn of it in parts. The thought system of truth is as wholly consistent as the thought system of illusion, and you cannot take what you will and leave the rest. Thus we will continue to point out the differences in the two thought systems so that your ideas can begin to change, until finally your heart takes over and makes the one choice you are bound to make. Your heart—not to be confused with the pump that runs the body, but identified as the center of yourself—has no thought system separate from your own and must exist in the reality where you think you are.
10.4 The beginning of all transformation is at the source, and this is as true of illusion as of the truth. You see your body as your self, and your self as “source” of all that you have done and felt in all your days upon this earth. Yet your real Source is at the center of your Self, the altar to your Creator, the Self you share in unity with Christ. Christ is the “part” of God that resides in you, not in separation but in the eternal wholeness in which God and you together exist in truth.
10.5 For those of you who have been journeying long, as well as those of you just beginning, this abandonment of the body as your home and source of all you are is the greatest hurdle to overcome. As you observe the body and dare to think of life without it, you again and again encounter its reality. When its awareness begins to leave you is just when you may be beset by headaches, back pain, and other seeming maladies. This is the separated self that you have made calling you back to the body to prove to you that it is insurmountable. Many people at this point try to think these maladies away, and when they do not succeed they see this as further evidence of their entrenchment in the body. Beware all attempts to think the body away and to think miracles into existence. This desire merely shows you know not the source of healing and are not ready to be healed.
10.6 That you are not ready yet does not mean you will not be ready, just as having lost something does not mean it no longer exists. Yet your separated self would cite all evidence of its failure to be other than separate and be quick to point out to you the impossibility of being other than what you are—a body. This is the “fact” it whispers constantly in your ear, the lie that it would have you believe makes all else you would learn here as impossible as this. You listen to this voice because it has been your constant companion and teacher in your separation, not realizing that what it has taught you is to be separate. Be warned that it will constantly try to interfere as long as you place any merit in what it tells you.
10.7 Think of another, a teacher or a parent, whose “voice” you hear as you go through your days. Whether you want to hear this voice or not, whether this voice was wise or foolish, the very repetition of this voice keeps it in your memory. This may be the voice that says, “Stand up straight,” or “You’re special,” or “You will never amount to anything.” Many of you may have used therapy to still the negative messages that you hear, and after much effort succeeded at replacing what was negative with messages of a more positive nature. And these are but messages of an outside source! Your own thoughts are much more persistent and insistent than these. They have been with you longer and more constantly. Vigilance is needed to dislodge them.
10.8 I tell you this not to discourage you, but to encourage you not to give up. Your purpose now is the holiest possible and all of heaven is with you. All that is needed is your continuing willingness. All that can cause you to fail is giving up. I give you these examples that will make you say, “It will not be easy,” but I tell you neither will it be hard if you but remember this: your willingness is all that is needed. When your separated self whispers to you, “Your body is but a fact,” all you need tell yourself is, “I am still willing to believe otherwise.”
10.9 Be aware also of your desire for reward. As you feel yourself becoming closer to God and your true Self, as you gain more awareness of yourself as a “good” person and one trying to be better still, you will begin to look for your rewards. Later you will look back upon this time and smile and laugh out loud at the innocence of these desires that but reveal that you stand merely at the beginning of the curriculum. To want a reward for goodness, for trying harder, for being closer to God than your brother or sister, are all desires of your separated self wanting something for itself and all its effort. This is but a stage you will pass through, though some may linger long here. You will stay until you realize that all are good and that you cannot earn more of God’s good graces than your brother. You will stay until you realize that God has given everything already to everyone.
10.10 Again but state your willingness. A willingness to believe that you have everything you need despite the “fact” that it does not seem so. Your willingness is all that is needed to move you through this stage and to the next. Be encouraged rather than discouraged that God does not grant all your desires here. For these are not yet your true desires, and the rewards you would choose here are as dust to those you will become aware of as you proceed.
10.11 Let us talk a moment here of miracles. Simply stated, miracles are a natural consequence of joining. Magic is your attempt to do miracles on your own. In the early stages of your learning, you will be tempted to play a game of make believe. You will not believe that you are not your body, but you would make believe that you are not. You may then be tempted to believe that because you are pretending you are not a body, you can pretend you do not feel the pain of a headache or the cold of a winter day, and this pretending may even make you feel a little less pain or a little less cold. But this attempt to fool yourself is welcomed by your separated self who knows pretending will not make it so.
10.12 These attempts to fool yourself are based on your lack of understanding rather than your lack of belief. You would not still be reading if you believed you were your body and that alone. Long have you known that there is more to you than flesh and bones. Belief is not your problem. Understanding is. While you believe in God, you do not understand God. While you believe in me, you do not understand how these words have come from me. While you believe in heaven and an afterlife, you do not understand what or where they are. And to believe in something that you do not understand makes you feel peculiar at the least and delusional at the worst. You want to believe and so you believe. But you also want to be “right” about what you believe. The convenient thing about your belief in God, in me, in heaven and in an afterlife is that you do not think you will be proven wrong here. If you are wrong, you will merely rot away after you have died and no one will know how wrong you were! If you are wrong, at least you believed in something that brought you comfort and in the end did you no harm.
10.13 This is not as easily said about the concept of not being separate, however. The only thing you find really difficult to believe is that you are in union with your brothers and sisters, right now, today. To believe in God without understanding God is one thing. To believe in your union with your neighbor without understanding either union or your neighbor is something else. This belief will not necessarily bring you comfort or do you no harm. What if you believe in the goodness of your neighbor and that belief is unwarranted? unwarranted? What if you are trusting and find that trust to be misplaced? What if you are simply naïve and are taken for a fool? What if you are wrong?
10.14 A similar fear strikes your heart when you consider giving up your belief in the body. To believe you are not your body while you walk around within it is something quite different than believing in God. Here all the proof available would say that you are wrong. All the proof of your eyes and ears, as well as that of science, would say you are your body. Even history would seem to prove this fact as you look back and say even Jesus died before he could rise again as spirit.
10.15 I am here to teach you once again because I was the example life. Do you believe that when I walked the earth I was a body, or do you believe that I was the Son of God before I was born into human form, during the time I existed in human form, and after I rose again? This is rightly called the mystery of faith: Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. What is missing from this recitation? Christ was born. Nowhere in the mystery of faith is it stated that Christ became a body.
10.16 You have not been told that the body does not exist, only that it is not you. Like all tools you made, it is illusion because you have no need of tools. But while you believe you do, it is quite real to you. To give up the body entirely is a choice you need not make. As your learning advances you will see that this is possible, but there may be reasons not to choose this. At this point, however, all that is asked is that your body is seen as what it is—both in terms of what you made it for and in terms of the way in which you can now be guided to use it for the benefit of all.
10.17 The choice for many has seemed to be “Would you rather be right or happy?” Only the ego would choose being right over happiness. As you observe your body, also observe its actions in terms of the choices it makes. Ask yourself, “What choice may have led to this situation or event?” For choice is always involved before the fact. Nothing happens to the Son of God by accident. This observation will help to put the responsibility of your life back into your hands, where it belongs. You are not helpless, nor are you at the whim of forces beyond your control. The only force beyond your control is your own mind, and this need not be. When you begin to ask yourself, What choice might lead to happiness instead of this, you will begin to see a difference in your body’s response to what appear to be external events, and then a change in the external events themselves.
10.18 Your mind might still prefer to be right rather than happy, so it is important that you let your heart lead in making this new choice. When you find yourself in a situation you do not like, again offer your willingness to find some happiness within it. These instructions to your heart will begin to make a difference to your state of mind.
10.19 What you would call your state of mind is more like a general atmosphere, an ambiance, a mood—and this setting is determined with your heart. The thoughts of your separated self care little for such as this and would call such concerns irrelevant to its well-being. Its survival as it is is its only concern. This is not just concern for needs such as food and shelter, but for survival of the thought system of the separated self. Happiness is not a priority here, but being right is quite important to it. It would prefer to be serious and heavy-hearted rather than light-hearted and gay. Being serious about life is a major strategy of the separated self, which recognizes its own seriousness as necessary to maintain its separation. Joy is truly the greatest threat to the separated self, for it comes from union and reinforces union’s appeal at the expense of the appeal of separation.
10.20 You do not realize how quickly the separated self rushes in to sabotage all movement away from separation and toward union. Many of you have recognized that you seem to minimize your chances for happiness and maximize your chances for unhappiness through the choices you would make. You look back longingly at times of happiness and wonder what went wrong and why you could not maintain that happy state. There might be many practical reasons to cite for your happiness’ demise, but in the loneliness that comes with its loss you will wonder, at least briefly, why the choice for practicality needed to be made. Yet if the separated self can look back and see that it chose being right over being happy, it will congratulate itself despite its unhappiness and say, “I did the right thing.” It will see itself as victor over the foolish dreams of happiness and say how glad it is that it came to its senses before it was too late.
10.21 Each of you is aware of a threshold you would cross that leaves no route open for return. That threshold is often a happiness so fulfilling that once you have experienced it you say, “I will take this despair no more.” For others this threshold is the opposite, an experience of pain so great that they would rather die than continue on in such a way. Addicts too but choose a different threshold wherein after experiencing the oblivion of the separated self through drugs, alcohol, or even constant work or shopping, they refuse to return to the separated self’s reality. If they cannot leave it, they will block it out. Some, at this threshold, turn back. They deny themselves the joy or the pain or the oblivion that would make return impossible and count themselves lucky for not going to the place from which change would become inevitable.
10.22 The separated self is so ensconced in fear that the known fears of its existence seem preferable to the unknown fears of any other kind of existence. That an option could be chosen that leaves no room for fear at all does not occur to it, for the absence of fear is something it has never known.
10.23 If the body is the surface aspect of your existence and fear lies beneath the surface, see the advantage of this exercise: Place your body out in front of yourself where you can be its silent observer. As you watch your hands go about their work or the shadow form on the ground as you walk to and fro, you will be learning the only separation that can be useful to you.
10.24 Your first realization of significance will be that all you hear does not come through your ears. You will find that you are full of thoughts—thoughts about your body, the same kind of thoughts you might have of someone else’s body. The difference will be that these thoughts will not seem to have originated in your head. You may realize for the first time or in a different way that you have always heard your thoughts without the benefit of your ears. You may be saying now, “Of course that is the way we hear our thoughts—it is the nature of thought.” But have you ever before considered the nature of your thoughts, or have you merely taken them for granted?
10.25 Thoughts are not seen nor heard and yet they are with you constantly, and never more so than as you conduct your experiment in detachment from the body. This is why we conduct this experiment. Whether you term yourself successful or a hopeless failure at conducting this experiment, you will realize anew that your thoughts more accurately define who you are than your body does. Whether they wander aimlessly or are quite focused, your thoughts are more the source of all you are and all you do than is the body you observe.
10.26 You may laugh at yourself for taking part in this silly experiment, but you will realize the desire to laugh at yourself is quite genuine and not conceived from meanness. There will be a happier self who seems to think this game is rather fun, and who is not at all concerned with the game’s success. This laughter too, as well as the sense of fun that prompted it, will come without the body’s participation.
10.27 You will soon develop an ability to see without your body’s eyes. This, too, will seem like a silly game at first, a trick of your imagination. You will, at first, observe only that which you can “see”— your arms and legs, your shadow falling as you walk—but more and more you will come to see the body as a whole. You will see it from behind as you follow it about its day, without, at first, even being aware that this is happening. And you will find that as you observe, you are more aware of your surroundings, and more aware that your body is part of everything that is happening. There is your body and six more crossing the street. There is your body sitting at a desk in a building with many others. You will realize how seldom before you were aware of the street you walked down, of the buildings it traveled between, of the open sky above, of all the “others” traveling it with you. You will feel more a part of everything rather than less, and be surprised by this feeling.
10.28 Keep going now for this is but a beginning. Experiment, just for the fun of it, without allowing room for discouragement. This is not a test and you cannot fail. You are merely playing. Play at observing yourself from above. Can you look “down” upon yourself? And can you skip along and get in front to see your body coming toward you?
10.29 This body that you claim to be your “self” is but a form—how can it be that you can see it not?
10.30 What you will be feeling as you proceed is the feeling of the tunnel vision of the separated self giving way to the expanded vision of the unified Self. As you feel this happening, you will begin to be aware of feelings too that are not bound to the body. Like the thoughts you neither see nor hear with your body’s eyes or ears, these feelings too will not depend upon your body’s senses.
10.31 You will find quite a bit of resistance to this experiment. You will find you are too serious to play this game and that you have better things to do. Yet as much as you resist, the idea has been planted and you will find yourself, at times that seem to be “against your will,” participating in it despite your determination not to do so. Once you begin to feel the effects of the experiment you will also encounter fear, especially if you take the game too seriously. There will be times when you will not want to laugh when the urge to do so comes upon you, and other times that after the slightest moment of expanded vision you will welcome back your tunnel vision with gratitude. You will feel relieved that your feet still touch the ground and that the boundary of your body is still intact. But you will remember the urge to laugh gently at yourself and the expanded vision as well. You will remember that for a moment your body did not seem to be a boundary that kept you contained within its limitations. Then you will remember that this is but a Course in remembering and that memory is the language of the heart.
10.32 Many of you will rebel here thinking this is not what you signed on for. You just want to read about this Course, perhaps, and not be required to take it. You will want to keep it theoretical and not apply it. You will ask for the information, and say you would really rather not have the experience. You wanted but the travelers’ guide and not the actual journey. This is what too many of you sought, and many of you still resist realizing that you got more than you bargained for. A door has been reached, a threshold crossed. What your mind still would deny your heart cannot. A tiny glimmering of memory has returned to you and will not leave you to the chaos you seem to prefer. It will keep calling you to acknowledge it and let it grow. It will tug at your heart in the most gentle of ways. Its whisper will be heard within your thoughts. Its melody will play within your mind. “Come back, come back,” it will say to you. “Come home, come home,” it will sing. You will know there is a place within yourself where you are missed and longed for and safe and loved. A little peace has been made room for in the house of your insanity.
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