Moving forward, I will not be putting all of his thoughts in quotations, just trust that everything I share is from him until I indicate differently.
This lesson parallels the section near the end of the manual, “What Is Death,” which teaches, as does Lesson 167, that death symbolizes the totality of the ego thought system: “Death is the central dream from which all illusions stem: (M-27.1:1). From the ego’s point of view, death provides the certain proof it is right. It says I have separated from God, which makes me a sinner. Overwhelmed by guilt for destroying Heaven, I believe God is justified in punishing me for my sin, rising from His grave to exact His vengeance. Thus the body’s death is the ego’s most powerful witness of all: “I told you I was right and the Holy Spirit wrong, because I, the ego, have power over life.” God created life, but cannot destroy it; yet I, the ego, can make life and also end it. Death, then, becomes the most convincing argument in the ego’s arsenal – certainly within the world of specifics – that the ego’s thought system of separation is true and the Holy Spirit’s thought system of Atonement is a lie.”
Whenever you are anxious or sad, concerned with specialness of any kind, and see yourself as a body – you make death real. Any of these specific forms reflects your belief that the thought system of sin, guilt, and fear is real, with death its ultimate and inevitable effect. The same thought is found in “The Picture of Crucifixion”, where Jesus says sickness is “but a ‘little’ death; a form of vengeance not yet total” (T-27.I.4:8). Here, that thought is extended by including anxiety, fear, and envy as little forms of death. All express the underlying thought of separation, which is death.
Remember death is not an entity, but only a projected thought of the ego. Indeed, we could substitute the word ego for everything said here about death, because you can always count on it to guaranteed our separated existence: if we exist, the living God is a lie, for only the ego’s divinity can be true.
The worshipping of death in all its forms – some subtle, some obvious – is the worshipping of the ego, reflecting the statement that I exist at God’s expense. Moreover, I delight in my sin, and will never return what I stole. To go back to Lesson 161, I make up a world of specific bodies that I can blame and hold responsible for what I secretly believe I have done.
Thus, whenever you indulge any form of specialness, try to catch yourself and say: “Here lies a witness God is dead.” In my special worship of the body – in hate or love – I state that God is dead and I rule in His place. I rule even in death and defeat, because even then I find proof I have lived and the separation is a fact, as is the thought system that arose from it.
Again, if we believe we are bodies, we believe we no longer live, and thus actively choose our own death. Moreover, if we believe the body is real, which death witnesses to, we say the Son of God has died along with his Father. That is why it is important as we practice ACIM not to mix up its teachings with other thought systems. There is nothing about the body that is redeemable, holy, or salvific, for it is the embodiment of death and the ego’s thought system. It can be used to teach us we are not bodies, but that has to do only with the mind’s change of purpose: not the body itself.
To “look past death: is not to deny that bodies die in this world. We do not deny the death our eyes see, but deny the ego’s interpretation of this death. Jesus is asking us to choose his eyes through which we will see instead of the ego’s; his vision instead of our judgment. Thus will we understand that God did not make death because He did not make the body, and thus all bodily forms are illusory because they are not of God.
…we reflect the truth of the lovely prayer (at the lesson’s end) by not seeing another’s interests as separate from our own – the basis for forgiveness. It is the meaning of asking the Holy Spirit’s help to shift our perceptions from death and its variation to His happy reflections of life.
I can choose again at any time.
I can change my mind at any time.
I can be in the moment.
I liked what Ken wrote above that the word ego can be used as a substitute for death as I practice this lesson.
It helps me to better understand why any expression or feeling I experience as sadness, depression, anxiety, etc., is simply a symptom of believing the ego’s lies.
As full as my plate is and it is full with business work and everything I do to keep our home running….it is my perception that it is full.
As long as I label it thus, I will allow myself to be bogged down, overwhelmed and highly anxious.
More often than not, what I conjecture will take hours to accomplish is a matter of minutes, of course, depending on what the nature of the task is.
Why must I label my day as full or too impossible to achieve, whatever?
I need not label anything.
What do I value?
Peace of mind.
The peace of mind that predominates.
The peace of mind that enables me to access the holy instant and stay there as I flow through my day rather than resist it.
It does work.
When I decide peace is my only goal. Oh, and forgiveness.
Forgiving what I think I see and asking the Holy Spirit to only see shared interested, not separate interests.
Asking Him to help me “reinterpret” my judgmental and unloving interpretations of others’ behavior and my own…to the fear and the call for love behind them and allowing Him to answer our collective call.
Have a lovely day!