How to see sickness, even in the smallest baby
I recently heard the story of an infant, a Sophia Walcker (unrelated to me), who is 7 months old, who has heart defects and problems with vision and hearing. She had one valve instead of two in her heart, as well as a hole in her heart. When doctors went in to add an artificial valve, a clot formed around the connection to the life support machine that pumped her blood during the operation. The clot dislodged and led to a seizure during the surgery. She had a heart blockage, kidney failure and a collapsed lung. She has been in the ICU for several months, but is still alive.
My wife cried upon hearing this story, which she has been watching unfold. I felt lost in what to tell her. In situations like these, where we are confronted with immense physical trauma and obvious need for healing, I wouldn’t think it would likely be very useful to tell bystanders, and certainly not the child’s parents that the little girl needed salvation above physical procedures.
I felt myself starting to want to feel sad for her, but also realized this could be a form of ego trap, in that thinking of the body as so real and feeling sadness could potentially root one even further in the world. Of course, it would sound almost cruel to someone not familiar with the Course to hear that.
But for us as the students, what is the right frame of mind to hold while seeing such things, and even more, can we do anything to aid in a person’s healing? Should we even be concerned with physical healing, since it is ultimately “window dressing” as I heard David Hoffmeister call it? Or can we pray to bring about true healing, likely first of the mind, but hopefully with physical effects, and what is the mindset to hold whilst doing so?
I get the sense a lot of Course teachers kind of hold a neutral mindset when it comes to healing, or kind of shy away from the subject, in that they probably want to affirm that the body ultimately isn’t real, and that healing is only of the mind, but this has left me feeling incomplete, because I know sickness is an outward projection of an inner condition. Is this one of those times where we literally need do nothing, or is there something we can or should indeed impart on another that will aid them, whether it be prayer, agreeing with the Spirit they are complete and trying to see them closer to atonement, or something else? In the case of a little baby with such serious troubles, it can be especially challenging to think of the situation as in the mind, as physical procedures are likely needed immediately just to sustain the body. But after that…what specific mindset does one hold in order to heal another?
I was reading a book by Carol How about Bill Thetford, titled “Never Forget to Laugh”, where it was hinted that Bill had maybe brought about healing a few times, and knew full well that it was an option. What was he thinking in his mind when that occurred? What was Jesus really doing and thinking and holding in his heart when he healed? I imagine he found a way to connect truly with the idea that he hadn’t left God, and neither had the person who appeared sick. I imagine he was able to “agree” with this idea more strongly than they were able to “agree” with the idea they were sick, and the effects were obvious. When talking about healing, the Course talks about not being willing to witness and acknowledge someone as sick (I’m paraphrasing here), and hence denying the sickness any reality. Again, on the surface, this sounds like it could be insulting to a family who’s loved one is seriously ill, but technically speaking, is this what the great healers have done? Aside from what one is thinking/feeling inside, how does one interact and try to relate with others who are witnessing the trouble of sickness without being caught up in it?
Any insights would be deeply appreciated. Thank you.
From Pursah’s Gospel of Thomas:
You are asking how to heal the body. You want a specific, worldly outcome. This is not what the Course teaches. If you want a specific outcome, then use the magic you believe in. I hear modern medicine is pretty good these days. Leave Jesus and his course out of it. Otherwise you are ‘bringing truth to your illusions’.
If you ‘do nothing’ in the hope that physical healing will come about, then you’re not really doing nothing.
What must be examined is all your feelings about this situation. It’s just another grievance. Forgive yourself and the baby for choosing this situation. There’s no need to give up your concerns in such a hurry. That is not what is asked of you. What is asked of you is that you look at them with Him. Notice the anguish. Hear the plaintive song of pain, sung in the mind of Sophia that dreams she is a baby with heart problems, and in your own mind who dreams yourself an adult without heart problems. You and Sophia are the same.
I like your perspective. I’m starting to learn, even after all these years. So I am going about looking at my feelings with the Holy Spirit, who will help me find another way of seeing them. This is forgiveness, yes? After enough examination, we get to a point where we have cleared the obstacles to God’s love? I keep trying to find this point, but I’m not there yet. I’m guessing it’s because I have varying levels of commitment to examining those very feelings. I think for me, it’s not the examining of the feelings that I’m missing - I do that quite often, and I like to think it’s with Him. It’s how to carry on after that where I seem to get stuck. I keep looking for something to happen, whether in this world or my mind. It’s tricky for me to get out of the self-examination mode without seeing a change. That’s not to say I haven’t ever seen a change. There have been times when I have realized a lighter feeling in me. But most of the time, it seems that I hang onto the idea that I’m going to notice a change, which doesn’t come, and I eventually find frustration. It’s apparently a long process for me.
Thanks for the advice. It really helps.
I’m going to give myself permission to be a bit ‘tough’. Understand that this is out of love.
I suspect you have not fully grasped what the Holy Spirit’s attitude is like. As Ken puts it, the Holy Spirit is you when you’re sane! The ego is you, when you’re insane. They are thought systems, each of them a perfect expression of a mutually contradictory idea.
You cannot choose the Holy Spirit without choosing against the ego. So the idea on which the ego is based must be seen. This single thought is expressed quite clearly in Chapter 18, section 5, Paragraph 4.
“I want it otherwise.”
The ego always wants things to be different than the way it is. It always wants something else. A different situation. Any situation but this.
You need not stop wanting something different. Wanting yourself to stop wanting something different, is just the same thought again. The game here is just to watch. No need to do anything. No need to be a ‘better’ Course student. Just watch yourself. It’s like watching a movie. You don’t have to do anything. SPOILER: the protagonist will win out in the end. It’s ultimately a comedy, not a tradgedy. You can trust. Just sit back and enjoy it. Sometimes it may appear to be a horror movie, but really that’s just dark comedy.
I understand though, that it’s a really long movie and with all that’s happened you’ve lost faith that it is actually a comedy. So take it from someone who’s seen the ending (Jesus):
A happy outcome to all things is sure.
Huh, I went in a very different direction than I was expecting. Let’s look at your message again.
It’s tricky for me to get out of the self-examination mode without seeing a change.
This suggests to me that you have not forgiven. When I have forgiven, I am utterly unconcerned about outcomes. When you have forgiven Sophia, your mind will not be disturbed if she dies, nor if she lives on in apparent discomfort. You will trust her to do what’s best for her and for everyone. She’s just an actor in that movie we were talking about. When you’ve forgiven, you’ll trust the actor to play her part perfectly and delight in whatever she does.
You may realise you have not forgiven. This too can be cause for delight, for celebration even. I love to find out I haven’t forgiven. When I find out I have not forgiven, it fully explains my current experience. I can be like “ah no wonder I feel terrible, I haven’t forgiven”. And it means that change (in how I feel) is possible. To know that this world is hell, to know that this is not forgiveness, is to make possible a change of heart and a return to Heaven.
Discovering that you don’t want to forgive is even better. The discovery of one’s own unwillingness is like finding precious stones among the pebbles while walking on the sea shore.
Here’s a forgiveness excercise for you: laugh at Sophia. As sincerely as you can. I’ve found that anyone I’m unable to laugh at, is someone I haven’t forgiven. So the attempt at laugher is very revealing.
I’m taking my own advice and laughing at you. huh, yes there was a touch of unforgiveness there. How wonderful.
Be well my brother.
You are indeed correct. This is one of the main things I am searching for: what is the Holy Spirit’s attitude really like? What does he sound like when he talks to me? Your description of the Holy Spirit as me when I’m thinking correctly helps me build my idea a little better. I have been wrestling for some time with the idea that the Holy Spirit is someone else, and I am only the small self, but not usually in touch with my higher Self.
There are times when I seem to “see” it all from a perspective of a peace. I realize that ultimately things that I wrestled with for years - what other people think, whether I have friends, whether I have a career, are not important. It’s this sense of calm that lately I seem to have been able to also apply to others - just briefly - like Sophia. On the advice of yourself, littlewillingness, and others here, I’ve been able to hold the image of her as a perfect spirit for some periods of time.
I suspect it will take me a while to “get it” fully - what the Course is saying I mean, as simple as the message may be. I just keep reading every day, doing the exercises, and wanting insight. What I’ve been discovering for some time is that I have been wanting an outcome from all this. Maybe in the world, maybe in my mind, but an outcome. When it doesn’t seem that I have it, I experience a whip-saw kind of effect, where it’s as if emotions were put on hold as I waited expectantly, then nothing came, then the emotions came flooding back.
However, in each of these cycles, I realize the next time around that I’m left with a certain ability to see the world from a little less connected place. I realize that the investment in an outcome I had been wanting is exactly opposite of what the Course wants me to have, in that I think I may have been using my ego to try to get something out of it. I’ve had several moments of truth where I had to be honest and ask myself “do I really want this for what it truly offers?” I’m glad to say that I have slowly come to terms with the fact that yes, I do. I just didn’t want to give up what the Course asks me to give up yet, and thought I’d find some kind of compromise.
In any case, insight about the Spirit is top on my list of knowledge. As to your points about forgiveness, fortunately, I do know when I haven’t truly forgiven, and I find that in my life regularly, so I have that pointer.
Thank you for your help brother.
This is one of the main things I am searching for: what is the Holy Spirit’s attitude really like?
A few years ago, when I started to really get it I wrote a blog post about how it was for me. When you’re swimming in the sea of the ego, you don’t know there’s anything else. It’s like not knowing that you’re dreaming because you don’t remember your waking life. The moment you remember your waking life, it’s a lucid dream.
Pointing out to people when they are thinking with the wrong mind or the right mind, is something I’ve found possible, with a little explanation, even with non-ACIM students. I think there’s a mistake that we are prone to, which is assuming that our own right mind will take the same form as the one that spoke to Helen. And we don’t need to be able to hear perfectly clearly in order to derive great benefit. When I realised I had a way to check what I was choosing in any given moment, and started to build up a picture of what my right mind is like, I was astonished. It was not at all what I expected. It was not what I think of as ‘spiritual’. It was quite ordinary and intensely practical. But the defining characteristic is ‘always knowing exactly what to do’. No uh “problems”. A clear direction, often with an idea of something that I want. Cake for example. But not concerned if when I get to the place where cake comes from, I find that there isn’t any. Often I don’t find what I thought I was there for. But the Holy Spirit has to talk to me in a language I understand. And cake is a language I understand, so if he wants me to go to the cafe for a reason I couldn’t possibly have imagined, He just plants the idea of cake in my mind and off I go.
But you see, I’m a person who learns best by following instructions. I wouldn’t expect everyone’s right mind to be like that. But I would expect the thinking of the right mind to be clear if nothing else. Incredibly clear. Clear and unconcerned with outcomes. While I seem to go in search of cake, I will not be disappointed in the least, if I don’t find any.
All this may help you to realise that you can’t remember having ever been in your right mind. This is very helpful to understand. The “I am dreaming right now” thought is a prelude to lucidity.
When it doesn’t seem that I have it, I experience a whip-saw kind of effect, where it’s as if emotions were put on hold as I waited expectantly, then nothing came, then the emotions came flooding back.
Ah yes. ‘Hope’ (or the ego’s flavour of it) is trecherous. It serves only to delay forgiveness. See, there are so many things that the world teaches us are good, and that we therefore assume are of the right mind.
I just didn’t want to give up what the Course asks me to give up yet, and thought I’d find some kind of compromise.
That’s wonderful to realise :D (I’ve had similar realisations too) - and also, that thought (the realisation, not the hope for compromise) is the right mind/Holy Spirit. That’s “you when you’re sane”.
It sounds like your path is unfolding exactly as it should. You are doing everything exactly right. There are no mistakes in salvation.
The slightest willingness erodes away at the ego’s thought system over time, like water turning stone to sand. Willingness and trust must be accumulated slowly at first. We start out so scared and confused. I trickled along at 0.5% willingness for years. It’s amazing what Jesus can do even with that. Now I am a torrent (100% willingness). But first I had to learn patience. Hahahaha I am still learning patience!