On Sunday, July 20, Rev. Marci Benson addressed the congregation at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that lecture.
Well hello everyone, or as my husband Mo would say, “Hi family.” First I want to thank the Community Miracles Center for asking me. It is an honor and privilege to be asked to speak. And it’s not even all that terrifying, just a teeny bit.
What I get from Tony is he always brings what is going on in his life in the current moment into his talks and I think that works really well. I always receive the message well from Tony when he does that so I am going to try to do that same thing. So today I am going to talk about sickness and about healing because that’s what’s going on for me right now. There are really two levels of sickness, there is the body level, the worldly level, and that is the one that we get all consumed with, and there’s the A Course In Miracles level, that says it’s all in my mind. The world’s view of sickness is that it takes place in the body and that I need some kind of external solution to fix it, and I believe that I am a body so I seek external solutions for my illness. That is a normal human thing to do.
I am going to talk about my sickness history because sickness, for me, has actually had a pay off. It started when I was a little kid in my family. I grew up in a family where there were five kids and I was the youngest of the five kids, and the time in my family when I got my mother’s undivided attention, and felt nurtured and taken care of, was when I was sick. I got to be home alone with my mom because all the other evil siblings were in school they wouldn’t be around to beat me up and take my stuff. My mother would make me the food I loved and I felt loved and taken care. I got what I really wanted, what we all really want. We all want that special attention from God. That’s why we wanted to be an individual. So when I was sick I got the special attention I was seeking. I got to have the special relationship with my mother that the ego wanted.
Not only did I have legitimate illnesses as a kid – I had tonsillitis, and then, when they took my tonsils out, I changed diseases and I got strep throat instead – but there was always that “sucky” part about being sick. You felt like crap, but that was the trade off. Then I got more inventive when I learned that I could fake being sick and still get to stay home alone with my mom, not feel crummy and still get the benefits. So I started to make up diseases and manipulate my mother into thinking I was sick. So there was a big pay off to being sick as a kid, but later as I got older that was not such a big worldly pay off. In fact it got to be an inconvenience, but for me, I have always had something going on with my body. My experience with illness is it makes my body real. It keeps me rooted in the dream of separation and it keeps me stuck here.
What seems to have been happening, since I became a serious A Course In Miracles student, is that I understand I always have something going on in my body – for as long as I can remember. I take out a body part and then a new one messes up, or I cure one thing and then another thing shows up. I always have something going on in my body. Right now I have been diagnosed with “chronic pain.” So now I don’t have to get a new disease because this one will just last forever. But seeking external solutions, although they make you feel better in the moment, is only a temporary solution because they don’t address the real problem, which is in my mind.
I have done everything a normal human would do when seeking relief from symptoms in the body using magic. The Course tells me that’s what we do to get the mind out of the place of fear so it can accept the healing. There is nothing wrong with that although there have been times I have some guilt around it, like should I be using this form of magic or that form. In the world there are judgments that say that this holistic form of magic is better than this traditional form of magic. For example my mind might, or the world might, tell me that using a chiropractor is “better” or “holier” than using muscle relaxers to help your pain. So I have all that nonsense and garbage in my mind around sickness, and the ego loves this stuff.
A Course In Miracles says, “The ego has a profound investment in sickness.” (T-8.VIII.3.2) What sickness does for the ego is actually quite ugly. The ego’s purpose for sickness:
• makes the body/ego real.
• punishes you before God gets you.
• proves you are an innocent victim of the big bad world.
• the mind makes the body sick to prove it is stronger than God who heals. So if you are sick and not getting better then you can say, “Ha ha, I’m stronger than God” which is what the ego wanted to be.
• punishes the body for the “sins” the mind has the body act out, all the things we feel guilty for in the past that we have done.
• separates us form our brothers who are “not sick.” It continues with the theme of separate interest. I’m sick and you’re not so we are separate. I have something you don’t.
• the mind makes the body sick to hide the real fact that the problem is in the mind.
Sickness serves the ego’s purposes well. It does a really good job of it. Yet Jesus tells us, “... illness is a form of magic. It might be better to say that it is a form of magical solution. The ego believes that by punishing itself it will mitigate the punishment of God.” (T-5.V.5.4-5) We believe, the ego believes, that by running away and having this separation dream that God will come after us and punish us for separating from Him, and if we make ourselves sick we can avoid some of that punishment.
Jesus also tells us, “Sickness is a decision. It is not a thing that happens to you, quite unsought, which makes you weak and brings you suffering. It is a choice you make, a plan you lay, when for an instant truth arises in your own deluded mind, and all your world appears to totter and prepare to fall. Now are you sick, that truth may go away and threaten your establishments no more.” (W-pI.136.7)
What Jesus is telling us is that, “Sickness is a defense against the truth” (W-pI.136) Light starts to dawn upon our mind and we start to study the Course. We start to hear the truth, listen to the Holy Spirit and then, bam, the ego’s like, "Okay, I’ll just make the body sick” and then it’s winning again because we are again rooted to the body and out of the mind.
Jesus tells me, sickness keeps us focused on the body and away from the mind where the real problem is. If we get back to our mind then that is where the real healing happens and the ego doesn’t want that. Jesus tells us that, “All forms of sickness, even unto death, are physical expressions of the fear of awakening” (T-8.IX.3.2) So when my body is sick it is saying that I am afraid of the truth. I am afraid of God, I am afraid of the love that is in my mind. I am afraid to wake up.
For me, it also seems as if sickness has been my ego’s defense against A Course In Miracles. When I decided to study ACIM it opened the door for me to really begin to experience the truth, and the truth freaks the ego out.
Jesus says, “We said before that the ego vacillates between suspiciousness and viciousness. It remains suspicious as long as you despair of yourself. It shifts to viciousness when you decide not to tolerate self-abasement and seek relief.” (T-9.VIII.2.7-9) Choosing A Course In Miracles was my decision to stop seeking self-abasement and to seek relief. That is when my ego needed to switch to viciousness because ACIM is a real threat to the ego. For me that is what has seemed like my path, or rather, my ego’s path. My ego has decided to just keep me sick, switching from one disease to another, keeping me continually distracted from truth and from going within.
From the ego’s perspective it’s a very good plan. The ego is really good at it, and my reaction has been a normal human reaction to illness. I have sought external solutions to what seems to be an external problem. I have tried all the holistic solutions and all the traditional medical solutions. You name it; I have tried it. All along the way my ego has been there to remind me how guilty I am. However, Jesus tells me, “Yet sickness is not of the body, but of the mind. All forms of sickness are signs that the mind is split, and does not accept a unified purpose.” (T-8.IX.8.6-7)
What I have been trying to heal is my body, but it’s not my body that’s sick. It’s my mind. There is nothing wrong with doing the things externally to make the body feel better. Some people may say you’re not a good Course student if you get sick, or you’re not supposed to use magic, but that is all just guilty ego crap and don’t believe it. Even though I have believed it at times. However, seeking to heal my body, though it has brought me temporary relief from symptoms, has not healed me of the guilt that is in my mind. My mind just moves on to choose the next sickness: from TMG in my jaw, to chronic pain in my back, to female stuff, take out those parts, gall bladder, take that out, appendix, take that out. I’m running out of body parts to remove. So I have to do something different because there’s nothing else to take out. So what I need is, I need to ask the Holy Spirit for a miracle. I need to start addressing the problem where is it, which is in my mind.
Meanwhile, I will continue to do the things that make my body feel better, but I have to address the problem where it is. So I make the decision to ask the Holy Spirit for a miracle. A miracle is not a bolt of lightning from heaven that hits me says, “Bam you’re healed.” A miracle is a correction to a mistaken belief, my mistaken belief, that sickness is in my body. A miracle is a correction of that belief. The mistaken belief I am separate from God, a miracle is a correction to that belief. The mistaken belief that I am a body and that I can suffer, a miracle is a correction to that belief. A miracle is a shift from my wrong-minded perception that I am separate from God.
Jesus says of a miracle that, “It does not create, nor really change at all. It merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false.” (W-pII.13.1.2-3) So when I look at my body and the illness with Jesus and the Holy Spirit I am reminded that the illness is false. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the illness will go away. For example, yesterday I was in excruciating pain as I was walking my dogs and I thought I would have to call my husband to come and drive me home, but what I did instead was to join in my mind with the Holy Spirit and started reminding myself of the truth. What happened was my mind was healed enough that I was able to let go of some of the pain. Then I ran into someone at the park and started talking and enjoying a conversation and was distracted from the pain and there was my miracle. Nothing changed in my body, but something happened in my mind.
What I need to do if I want to truly heal is to continue to join with the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile I will continue to do externally what I need to do to get rid of the pain in my body because part of me still believes I am a body or I wouldn’t be standing here. Even though intellectually I do believe the Course is true.
This is what the Holy Spirit advises me to do with my mind, “When the ego tempts you to sickness do not ask the Holy Spirit to heal the body, for this would merely be to accept the ego’s belief that the body is the proper aim of healing. Ask, rather, that the Holy Spirit teach you the right perception of the body, for perception alone can be distorted. Only perception can be sick, because only perception can be wrong.” (T-8.IX.1.5-7)
A Course In Miracles is relief from my wrong perception. In fact, it’s not body that’s sick. Its my perception that’s sick.
In form, I may need to seek a neurologist, or a gynecologist, or whatever I need to seek in form, but for my spiritual healing I need to seek a “perceptologist.” Thank God that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are professional “perceptologists”, and they know exactly what I need to do to heal my mind. So I make the decision to join with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, to seek the truth and to focus on the truth. All it means when I’m joining with them and healing my perception is that instead of listening to the wrong-minded ideas of the ego, I listen to the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit tells me, “The body cannot heal, because it cannot make itself sick. It needs no healing. Its health or sickness depends entirely on how the mind perceives it, and the purpose that the mind would use it for.” (T-19.I.2.1-3) Healing is the effect of my decision to join with the Holy Spirit and no longer believe in separation. Holy Spirit says, “Forgiveness is the healing of the perception of separation.” (T-3.V.9.1)
With A Course In Miracles, the bottom line always comes back to forgiveness. I still have to do the forgiveness homework and change my mistaken beliefs in my mind and exchange those for the truth. Joining with the Holy Spirit and Jesus in my mind reminds me of true perception.
The Holy Spirit’s correction to the ego’s perception of sickness, the answers to all the ego’s uses of sickness are:
• “HS” / “J” remind me that the body is not real and sickness is impossible.
• God has not condemned me and will never punish me so there is no need for me to punish my body with sickness.
• I am not a victim of the world. Sickness was my choice in my mind.
• It is impossible to usurp God’s power. No need to try to prove I have more power than God.
• There is no such thing as sin. Sin is a quaint absurdity. No need to punish the body for nothing.
• All of my brothers are in need of healed perception. So I have no separate interests from my brothers, we both need healing.
• My willingness to look to the mind and ask “HS” and “J” to help me see the problem where it is, dismisses the need to make the body sick to hide the real source of the problem. Healing comes from recognizing truth. I am healed when I bring these truths to my mind, go within my mind, and join with the Holy Spirit and remind myself of the truth.
A Course In Miracles says that, “When I am healed I am not healed alone.” So, whenever I join with the Holy Spirit and Jesus, and remind myself of these truths, I’m not only healing my mind but I am healing all of us. I also need to be willing to want all of you to be healed as well, and to leave no one out. I can’t want Vincent to be healed but not George Bush. I can’t leave any brother out of healing because anytime I leave any brother out I leave myself out. In order to receive healing, I have to want to share it with everyone. If I am angry at another driver in traffic, that anger is excluding them from healing and therefore excluding myself. A Course In Miracles tells me every attack thought takes me away from healing and leads me to separation. So healing comes from letting go of the attack thoughts. I acknowledge to the Holy Spirit that I just had an attack thought but then exchange it for truth and not judge myself for it.
A Course In Miracles talks a lot about right-minded perception, or being in your right-mind. What that means is that if I make a judgment, or have an attack thought, but I don’t judge myself for having the attack thought. I’m in my right-mind. Holy Spirit tells me “All healing is release from the past” (T-13.VIII.1.1) I am not performing my function as a healer if I am holding anyone’s past against them, including my own. So I can’t hold your past against you or hold mine against me.The biggest thing I need to do is acknowledge that I don’t know what healing is. I have all these ego beliefs as to what I think healing is, but I need to acknowledge that I don’t know what healing is. Then, I become teachable.
Holy Spirit tells me, “Every situation, properly perceived, becomes an opportunity to heal the Son of God.” (T-19.I.2.1) That’s what my “perceptologists” do for me. They help me perceive every situation properly so it can become an opportunity to heal all of us as a Son of God.
I want to thank Rev. Larry for his constructive help and guidance in helping with my talk. His guidance helped me be more clear and concise in my demirry and for that I am grateful. I also want to thank everyone for coming today to help me heal God’s Holy Son. Y
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This article appeared in the October 2008 (Vol. 22 No. 8) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.